Design challenge: Creating a facility that symbolizes Hope

Posted by Wed, Jan 21, 2015

Tags: green, architecture, lakewood ranch, wellness

This project was done in 2011 but the story of the design challenge is timeless!

The Cancer Support Community (formerly known as The Wellness Community) wanted a new facility that would be a place of healing and a beacon of Hope to those affected by cancer.  How does architecture convey a sense of Hope to the buildings user?

Cancer Support Community Architecture

The design solution for the 11,000 SF facility was to create two structures connected together by a large arch that creates a covered courtyard.  The prominent arch stretching across the facility serves as an inspiring design element but also offers a compelling story of history and hope.  Known as the “Bridge of Hope”, the arch connects the 2 pavilions and is a tangible testament of hope to all who enter.  The abstract form allows for interpretation about what the symbol represents to each individual.  

The arch is a traditional architectural design element signifying strength and permanence.  The shape of this particular arch is much like a rainbow in the landscape.  The rainbow is a timeless symbol of hope (think Noah). Visitors gain an empowering sense of comfort from the structural strength when walking beneath the arch.  The arch is supported by 8 pillars that are old Florida hard wood Pine tree trunks, from trees that were several hundred years old and were originally harvested over 100 years ago when Florida was first harvested for its timber.  During transport down Florida’s rivers, logs would frequently be lost along the way and sink to the bottom of the Suwannee River.  This environment actually preserved the timber until it could be reclaimed recently for this project.  These tree trunks were stripped of their bark, but left a bit rugged and scared, in their natural state.  They stand at the entry and in the courtyard as if they were old friends, there to provide a since of comfort and longevity.

The arch structure above the tree trunk columns is constructed of laminate wood beams and tongue-and-groove decking, both of which are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood.

The Bridge of Hope clearly defines the main entry of the facility so users are comfortably orientated when they arrive at the facility.  While the arch for does dominate the image of the facility, the rest of the building is scaled down to be welcoming and easily approachable.  It is more of a residential scale with simple one-story forms and familiar, simple pitched-roof shapes.  The project is designed to avoid any sort of medical or institutional feel and is instead full of friendly warm materials and spaces to provide the user a peaceful and comfortable environment that reminds them of home.

The facility sits in the natural landscape adjacent to a wetland preserve.  The “Bridge of Hope” stands as a symbol for all who work in and visit the Cancer Support Community.

This article appears in SRQ magazine’s March 2011 issue titled “Design Dossier".

Function of the building: Healing Center to deliver optimum care in the areas of psychological and social support to people affected by cancer – those with the disease as well as their loved ones and caregivers.  

Written by: Michael Carlson, LEED AP, Carlson Studio Architecture 

Sun N Fun's "Green" Lifestyle Wellness Center on SNN6

Posted by Mon, Jan 09, 2012

Tags: green, architecture, usgbc, wellness, LEED, Sustainable, community center, pool, Jedd Heap, architect, Michael Carlson

By Thomas Becnel
Herald Tribune

Sun-N-Fun, the huge RV resort east of Interstate 75, draws camping fans from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes.
Wait — make that from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast.
More than 1,500 Midwestern and Canadian snowbirds visit the Sarasota park each winter. The Fruitville Road facility offers everything from tennis and golf — well, disc golf — to swimming and volleyball, shuffleboard and lawn bowling.
Now the two-time "Mega-Resort of the Year" is about to open a $5.5-million indoor pool and health club.
"We're looking forward to the gym," said JoAnn Boehlke of Ontario. "They've got something for everyone."
Boehlke is a 63-year-old retiree, which people find hard to believe, because she looks like a 43-year-old gymnast. She used to play volleyball and tennis — she won a Florida Senior Games singles title — but a rotator cuff injury sent her to the pool.

"Now I'm up to swimming half a mile," she says, "and doing water aerobics."

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Posted by Fri, Dec 16, 2011

Tags: green, architecture, wellness, Sustainable, Michael Carlson

As we approach the closing of 2011 we wanted to share with you some of the highlights from this past year. We are delighted to report that By the River is now completely full, and we are providing affordable housing and life-enhancing programs for 41 seniors.

Our residents are building community within By the River in a multitude of ways. One building has proudly displayed the residents' photos with the banner "We are Family". Residents are encouraged to participate in community development within each building and throughout the campus. Each building selects a representative to meet with management monthly to provide input into the decision making process. Frequent community barbecues have become the norm.

We continue to expand our programs including a recent holiday craft fair where residents sold beautifully woven and crocheted items among other wares, which were all hand made by residents. Weekly classes focus on nurturing the body, mind and spirit through art, music, health lectures, yoga, breathing, and exercise. One of our residents has even taken on the role of instructor for an exercise class and fills in for the instructor of our "Living with Stress" class!

Volunteerism is encouraged with our residents. Three days per week residents help prepare food for the "Feed Everyone" program, which distributes healthy meals to needy families in Gifford. Once a month, they assist with preparing packages that contain vital medications for the sick and impoverished people of Haiti.

As our programs evolve to suit the growing needs of low-income seniors, we are also challenged with providing financial assistance to help fill in the gap as many seniors are faced with choosing between buying medication or food when they reach the end of each month. All donations make a difference and are so gratefully received. It takes only $14 a day for a senior to be housed for a full year, fed one hot meal per day, and be given the opportunity to have community and to participate in wellness-fostering programs. Your generosity can make a big difference in our ability to care for our frail, low-income seniors in an environment where they feel well and maintain their sense of independence and dignity.

Please take a few moments to read the attached card and consider how you might help the low-income seniors in our community. Thank you so very much for your time, interest and support. The staff and residents of By the River wish you and your loved ones a beautiful holiday season.

With Gratitude,
Durga Das Hutner




CSA and PSH Healthcare Consultant join forces to design Hospice projects

Posted by Mon, Oct 31, 2011

Tags: carlson, wellness, LEED, healthcare, hospice, horstman

Peter S. Horstman (PSH), a leader in Hospice design in Florida, and Carlson Studio Architecture, one of the state’s leading green design firms, have joined together to deliver state of the art hospice design throughout Florida.  The combination or Mr. Horstman’s 10 years of experience in the design of over a dozen hospice projects and Carlson Studio’s 15 year history of award winning and sustainable design throughout Florida,  create a winning group of professionals with expertise, creativity, and rock solid project delivery.

PSH/Carlson Studio Architecture has the experience to provide a complete range of design services for your hospice related projects:

  • We have a strong background in healthcare related projects with an emphasis on Inpatient Hospice facilities.
  • Our experience extends into Assisted Living, Independent Living and Skilled nursing facilities.
  • We are experts in the preparation of architectural data for CON applications, and are able to follow the CON from pre-design through design and construction.  We work closely with your legal team and AHCA.
  • We have a proven record of designing award winning, sustainable, energy efficient buildings.

PSH/Carlson Studio Architecture is dedicated to designing facilities that are healthy environments for the user, and are healthy for the environment itself.  As LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Accredited Professionals and members of the USGBC (US Green Building Council), we have the expertise to advise your organization in selecting construction materials and methods to meet this goal.

We believe that a successful construction project is based on communication of the owner’s and occupants’ needs combined with the technical knowledge of the professional consultants.  We are certain that you will find our team has both the reputation of being good listeners and interpreters of your needs into a building that is functional, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing.


Sarasota Magazine deams Cancer Support Community "Instant Landmark"

Posted by Thu, Sep 01, 2011

Tags: green, usgbc, wellness, cancer, LEED, Sustainable, sarasota, healthcare, architect

In the recent Chariety Register issue of Sarasota Magazine, the Cancer Support Community's new home was described as an Instant Landmark.

"Best Proud Moment - The crowd at the gala celebrating the Cancer Support Community's state of the art new $6 million Building Hope practically levitated with excitment. This instant landmark, with its soaring arch, was the perfect backdrop for the heartfelt speeches, congratulations and dancing under the gorgeous tent." -Sarasota Magazine, Pam Daniel

The Cancer Supprt Community Florida Suncoast is a non-profit organization providing free psychological and educational services for cancer patients and their loved ones. Our programs adhere to the “Patient Active” concept and focus on providing support, education and hope for anyone affected by cancer. The project was LEED NC Gold certified under the USGBC's LEED Green Building rating system.

sarasota magazine

Cancer Support Community Achieves LEED Gold Designation from U.S. Green Building Council

Posted by Wed, Jun 01, 2011

Tags: green, architecture, carlson, usgbc, wellness, cancer, LEED, Michael, Sustainable, sarasota, healthcare, award, florida

May 27, 2011     Sarasota, FL – When it opened last fall, the Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast’s new facility turned heads with unique architectural elements like the reclaimed 150-year-old Florida pine entry pillars and environmentally-friendly building design.  The 11,142-square-foot building nestled on 2.2 acres of landscaped grounds surrounded by a nature preserve is home to a unique mission: providing free psycho-social support services to anyone affected by cancer.  Now the Sarasota nonprofit and those it serves have new cause for celebration: the building is the first health facility in Sarasota County to earn LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Facilities where health and healing occur are some of the most important construction types to benefit from green building design,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President of the U.S. Green Building Council. “Green buildings seek to reduce use of and exposure to toxic chemicals. For cancer patients with compromised immune systems, that means a healthier environment for healing.”

Carlson Studio Architecture and Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc., the design-build team for the first-of-its-kind facility, will host a LEED Dedication Ceremony to formally recognize the Cancer Support Community’s accomplishment at 11:30 AM on Monday, June 13.  Representatives from the USGBC’s Florida Gulf Coast Chapter will preside at the event.  The ceremony is open to the public and building tours will be available.

“The Cancer Support Community board and staff demonstrated extraordinary dedication and perseverance to sustainability goals as well as adherence to best practice, evidence-based design standards throughout the process.  Their commitment to doing what was in the best interest of their mission and the people they serve was not only inspiring to the design team, but kept us all focused on creating an optimum environment where hope and healing could occur,” said U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Florida Gulf Coast President Michael Carlson of Carlson Studio Architecture.

LEED is an internationally recognized third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, LEED serves as a tool for buildings of all types and sizes. LEED certification offers third-party validation of a project’s green features and verifies that the building is operating to objective design standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. 

The Cancer Support Community’s $6.1 million project on a five-acre site just east of Interstate 75 in Lakewood Ranch is designed to be an optimal healing environment, combining healthful materials, art, design and nature in a “green” facility to support people whose immune systems often have been compromised.

The facility was financed through philanthropic donations and grants. “Our community should take great pride in this model facility and in the extraordinary generosity of local donors and foundations during a very difficult period,” said Alfred Rose, campaign chair.

Prior to construction or site design, all project team members, staff as well as program participants met for a series brainstorming, design meetings known as “eco-charrettes” to build consensus for programming elements of the building and to identify desired sustainability aspects and features of the facility.  This collaborative, integrated, whole systems design process helped prioritize and rank the desired healthy, green, sustainable and environmentally-friendly aspects of the building.  Including:

Proper site orientation:  The buildings are perfectly aligned along an East/West axis, so the long sides of the buildings face North and South.  This orientation has a positive impact on all other green decisions because the windows, overhangs and even the placement of the photovoltaic panels on the roof collectively bring the buildings all the advantages of natural light, while maximizing the best use of the sun and minimizing adverse effects such as heat gain.

Energy efficiency and water conservation features reduce the building’s operational costs and conserve resources.

The building is constructed from the most eco-friendly materials – there are no harmful chemicals in the paint, wood, concrete, adhesives, sealants, etc.  This produces a healthy environment for patients with compromised immunity.

The facility is located on a parcel of land located on a nature preserve that takes advantage of nature’s healing properties. The building overlooks a beautiful vista of natural scenery and wildlife.

Sustainable Design/Build Team Members

Architecture: Carlson Studio Architecture

Construction: Willis A. Smith Construction

Civil Engineering: Wilson Miller

Landscape Design: DWY Landscape Architects

Engineering: Stewart Engineering

Structural Engineering: Hees and Associates

Interior Design: TRO Jung/Brannen and Ringling College of Art & Design

Project Management:  Johnette Isham, Capacity by Design

Timeline:  Programming design began in 2006. Construction began July, 2009.  The building was completed and certified for occupancy in October, 2010.
Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast provides hope, education and support to people affected by cancer, and all of its programs are provided free of charge. Through participation in support groups, informational workshops and mind/body classes, people affected by cancer learn vital skills that improve the quality of their lives and make them better partners with their medical professionals. Since 1996, more than 11,000 individuals have made more than 60,000 visits to the center in Sarasota and at satellite locations throughout the area.  For more information on programs and services:

csc courtyard

leed plaque web

Cancer Support Community: a place to heal

Posted by Mon, Nov 15, 2010

Tags: green, architecture, usgbc, lakewood ranch, wellness, cancer, LEED, healthy building

By WALKER MEADE Correspondent
Herald Tribune

There is no better evidence of the great change in our attitude toward breast cancer than the pink-ribboned bumper stickers that we see all over town: "Save the Ta-ta's."
A decade ago, lightheartedness about such a serious subject would not have been possible. A breast cancer diagnosis then was experienced as a death sentence. Now, medicine has achieved a five-year survival rate of close to 90 percent for those diagnosed with stage one cancer, and the support system for those suffering from cancer is vast. An organization in Southwest Florida that has been dedicated since 1996 to helping women get healthy again is The Wellness Community Southwest Florida, now called The Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast after merging with Gilda's Club last summer. Its mission is "to help people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of support, education and hope."

The organization recently moved from its longtime home on Clark Road in Sarasota to a new facility on Communications Parkway in Lakewood Ranch and hired Sarasota businessman Carl Ritter as its CEO. The five-acre campus, surrounded by more than two acres of gardens bordering a 600-acre nature preserve, is the result of a multi-faceted collaboration. Early on, the center established relationships with New College of Florida, Florida State University's College of Medicine in Sarasota and Ringling College of Art and Design. In the fall of 2006, six upper-level Ringling students collaborated on an assignment to address the project's design concept: illustrating the transforming power of connection and choice.

cancer support community
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ABC 7 covers the Cancer Support Community's Grand Opening

Posted by Wed, Oct 20, 2010

Tags: carlson, wellness, cancer, Michael

by ABC 7,

LAKEWOOD RANCH - For those diagnosed with cancer, the fear of the unknown can be terrifying.  In Florida, it's estimated more than 100,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.  Here on the Suncoast, we're fortunate to have a state of the art cancer support center.

The new facility was dedicated Tuesday and will now be able to serve thousands more cancer patients and their families.  They used to be called the Wellness Community of Southwest Florida and they used to operate out of a strip mall on Clark Road.  But now the newly named Cancer Support Community has a brand new facility in Lakewood Ranch, about three times the size.



Support system: The Cancer Support Community's new building

Posted by Mon, Oct 18, 2010

Tags: green, architecture, carlson, usgbc, lakewood ranch, wellness, LEED, Michael, sarasota, healthy building

By Harold Bubil, Herald Tribune

If anything, people who have just been given a cancer diagnosis need a friend.

At the Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast's green new facility in Lakewood Ranch, architect Michael Carlson has given them eight, in the form of 500-year-old pine logs serving as support posts. He says they are like "old friends."

Recovered from river bottoms, the logs are the distinctive architectural feature of the $6.1 million building, which will be dedicated Nov. 12 with a black-tie gala. The four, 30-foot-tall main posts support a 156-foot-long archway -- "the bridge of hope" -- that peaks at 35 feet above the building's courtyard, linking the structure's two sections.

"They have so much warmth and character to them," said Carlson, one of the region's leading green architects.

"When you walk in here, these are sort of like your old friends ... who have been here forever and are solid as a rock. You can touch them and feel them. They have that sense of permanence."

"Place matters" to cancer patients, says Johnette Isham, one of the leaders of the "Building Hope" construction program.

Several design charrettes and a lot of research went into the design of the 11,142-square-foot CSC. Senior Vice President Jay Lockaby said one of the research points "was to make an arrival experience, to have an obvious point of entry for someone new to the place. To have a ... warm environment for them to come into."

CSC program participant Dawn Moore, a breast cancer survivor, says there's "a very peaceful sense" in the new building.

That is fitting, as the CSC's mission is to provide psychological and social support to cancer patients and their relatives and caregivers, free of charge. CSC is part of the largest professionally trained network of cancer support facilities in the world, resulting from a merger of The Wellness Community and Gilda's Clubs, named for the late comedienne and ovarian cancer victim Gilda Radner.

The spaces include a meditation and exercise studio, a library, an education room, an art studio for children to encourage self-expression, gallery spaces, an Internet café, counseling and meeting rooms of various sizes; a large multiuse room for events, fundraisers, yoga and tai-chi, with a teaching kitchen (good nutrition is stressed); and outdoor areas for tai-chi, dining and healing gardens.

The complex has restful vistas of a nature preserve that is part of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

Color choices replicate colors found in nature, which is believed to be more beneficial for cancer patients.

"A lot of that thinking came from the Ringling College class," said CSC board member David Shaver. "One of their senior classes devoted an entire semester to this building. They did the original color palette."

"The group rooms are quiet, with a living-room feel, but you know you are not at home," said Lockaby. "This is where we do support groups, primarily, and individual and family therapies."

The building, intended as it is to foster better health, includes many of the standard green features that make up the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) program. Carlson expects that the building's design has earned enough "LEED points" to qualify for the LEED-NC (new construction) Gold certification.

reclaimed wood column
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Cancer Support Community to Open

Posted by Tue, Oct 12, 2010

Tags: green, architecture, carlson, usgbc, wellness, cancer, LEED, Michael, sarasota, community center, jedd, heap

The Cancer Support Community's "Building Hope" will officially open next Tuesday October 19th, 2010. The $6.1-million facility is located on five acres in north Sarasota County just east of I-75 in Lakewood Ranch. It will be run by the Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast, the new name for the Wellness Community of Southwest Florida. The new center will include an 11,142-square-foot building and 2.2 acres of landscaped gardens. The facility is being designed to support people whose immune systems have been compromised.

The Building Hope project is seeking Gold Certification under the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design (LEED) green building rating program.

building hope front