Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers Healing Garden | Pittsburgh USA | Pashek Associates

Designed by Pashek Associates, the fourth floor terrace of the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers offers a unique opportunity for an urban medical campus with limited green space. Located
in the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the 3,750 square foot terrace garden serves as a positive distraction for patients, before and during treatment, while taking precautions to prevent infections.

The proven therapeutic power of art and nature formed the basis of the design. The state-of-the-art outpatient treatment facility reflects a natural spa, with finishes in calming colors and natural materials, both inside and out. A patient tracking system allows patients freedom and mobility to experience the terrace garden during all stages of their visit.

The truly collaborative design process involved doctors, nurses, and facility managers working hand-in-hand with design professionals. Feedback from a patient focus group further informed the design, acknowledging their ideas, thoughts, fears, and emotions.

Several therapeutic design strategies were employed throughout the space; sensory stimulation, escape and distraction, control, and accessibility and safety. Colorful kinetic wind sculptures and plants provide a variety of textures, colors, and fragrances. An interactive sound sculpture chimes when patients walk by and a putting green serves to pass the time. A variety of spaces, seating arrangements, and views offer patients choice and a sense of control over their environment. Curvilinear and looping paths around planting islands offer patients decision points when walking through the space.
The garden’s seasonal interest can be viewed from interior treatment bays and spaces, for those unable to traverse outdoors. Evening lighting, colorful tulip fixtures, and fire-fly lights hidden in shrubs help highlight sculptural elements and provide visual interest at night. Large pots are changed seasonally while ornamental grasses and shrubs provide winter interest.


Neutropenic precautions were taken to address specific needs of blood cancer patients. Locations of shade structures were based on computer modeling of sun and shade patterns. Materials are anti-microbial, non-toxic, sustainable, and easy to clean. A screened storage bin and low maintenance plants and materials reduce maintenance trips through the sterile facility.

Since its opening, many patients have given positive feedback on the design of the terrace, remarking that it’s a “place of solace and calmness”.


Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers Healing Garden | Pittsburgh USA | Pashek Associates

Design Firm | Pashek Associates
Consultants | Radelet McCarthy Polletta Architects; Landau Construction Company; Firsching, Marstiller, Rusbarsky and Wolf Engineering, Inc.; Atlantic Engineering Services
Awards | Landscape Architecture Silver Award for Healthcare Environments, 2013
Photographs | Taktl
Site Plan | Pashek Associates
Text | Pashek Associates

About Damian Holmes 3312 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at