Big Builds by Alabama Builders: Spencer Cancer Center

The new Spencer Cancer Center at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika

East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika wanted to provide cancer care conveniently and close to home.

Blown glass chandeliers in the reception area add more than light.

Architect Doug McCurry, of TRO Jung|Brannen in Birmingham, responded with a design for the new Spencer Cancer Center that combines natural and man-made materials — a reflection on advances in medicine — in an airy space with lots of natural light from window walls and clerestory features, and touches of pleasant color and art work incorporated into the design.

Most of the cancer-fighting equipment was already in the hospital, but the new center, which opened in June, offers a dedicated space.

Rather than selecting trendy colors, McCurry went for an art museum style — neutrals with the color coming from furniture and works of art and warmth from the floorings, ceilings and stonework.

All the windows and art serve more than a design purpose, says McCurry. Architectural studies over the decades have shown that views to nature, colors and artwork help patients heal more quickly. Coupling that with the reduced stress of close-to-home care can be especially beneficial.

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“Buildings like this take a vision by the owner,” says McCurry. Then the architect brings that vision to life.

In this case, the job extended to standing atop a scissor lift assembling the entryway chandeliers — a skill he learned as a teen working in a lighting shop — linking each of the glass pieces into the ice-cream-cone-shaped frame as the pieces were handed up by Joan Asbury. She and Wake Asbury, of Wakefield Homes and Alabama Business Supply, selected furniture and art for the project.

McCurry, who has family ties to Opelika, has worked with EAMC for the past 16 years.

General contractor for the project was Bailey-Harris Construction, based in Auburn. Landscaping was by Rob Hassett, of APlus Landscape and Irrigation in Auburn.

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