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Huntsman Cancer Institute

Salt Lake City, UT

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The most common phrase heard in the Huntsman Cancer Institute hospital lobby is, ‘this looks more like a hotel than a hospital.’ That attention to comfort and care are the cornerstones of a million square feet, designed to instill a feeling of hope. Patients and guests are greeted by the sounds of volunteers playing a grand piano or harp in the hospital lobby and grand staircase that leads to many outpatient clinics and services on the second level. The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is built on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. The view from inside spans the Salt Lake Valley to the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and Wasatch Mountain Range to the east. From the infusion center on the second floor and from corridors, and waiting areas on every floor, patients, families, and visitors can gaze toward peaceful mountain ranges and over the Great Salt Lake. All 100 inpatient hospital rooms are designed as private suites with bathrooms, comfortable chairs and couches that fold out into beds so a family member or friend can stay overnight. Rooms on the west side of the building have a sweeping view of the Salt Lake valley. Patient rooms on the east side have a rustic scene of the Wasatch Mountain foothills where patches of yellow mules-ear flowers bloom and tall grass waves like water in the spring breezes. Outside the fourth floor, patients, families and staff can relax and get some sun in the Miche Healing Garden and patio. The halls of HCI exhibit a vast display of paintings, artwork and photography in classic and contemporary, realistic and abstract styles—all donated by collectors, patients, doctors, and artists. Thanks to the vision of founders Jon M. and Karen Huntsman, the cancer center campus resembles a beautiful five-star hotel. Jon was a four-time cancer survivor. During his treatment for prostate cancer, he felt the clinics and hospitals he went to were “cold and clinical, inspiring anxiety but not hope.” And the principal architect of all four phases of HCI’s hospital and research complex, who stood by his teenage daughter as she died of cancer, also felt the need to create a cancer treatment space that inspired beauty, serenity, inspiration, and above all, hope. He envisioned beautiful vistas and soothing spaces that brought the stunning Utah landscapes into the patient’s room. Together, principal architect Don Finlayson, the firm Architectural Nexus, and Jon and Karen Huntsman dreamed, designed and built the stunning cancer campus we have today. They never lost sight of the vision to create the very best spaces possible to marry exceptional research and exceptional care.