As a global leader in cancer research and care, Sarah Cannon focuses on providing greater access to innovative therapies to patients close to home. The new 12,000-square-foot Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Tennessee Oncology Franklin Drug Development Unit (DDU) and Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Florida Cancer Specialists Lake Nona DDU bring together cutting-edge cancer treatments, advanced diagnostics and research in one location, providing convenient access for patients and their support systems in their own communities.


Sarah Cannon Research Institute



Project Type



2019 AIA Middle Tennessee Citation Award, 2022 IIDA Tennessee Design Award


total square-feet


treatment positions


comprehensive design toolkit

Optimizing Operational Efficiencies

Optimizing Operational Efficiencies

The highly collaborative design process included stakeholder interviews, evidence-based design research and detailed review of operational processes. As a result, the DDUs eliminate bottlenecks by separating patient intake functions from patient treatment areas and increase efficiency with centrally-located supply and drug storage rooms. The layout also creates synergies for care team members as they move between “on stage” areas, which support patient interaction and observation, and “off stage” work areas, which support charting, collaboration and consultation amongst the care team. Work stations are strategically positioned for proximity, safety and visibility, while adjacent focus rooms and research workrooms serve as a physical and metaphorical hinge point between treatment and research.
Prioritizing the Patient Experience

Prioritizing the Patient Experience

The DDU’s elevate the patient experience with comfortable, amenity-filled private, semi-private and open treatment spaces and large expanses of windows that flood the space with natural light. The “community hub” serves as a centralized lounge, giving patients and their families flexibility and social support during the treatment process. Clean, white interior architecture and 11-foot-high ceilings reflect Sarah Cannon’s modern, innovative practices, while organic elements such as cork wallcoverings, a soothing furniture palette with pops of the organization’s signature blue and nature-inspired decorative lighting echo their patient-centric approach. The decorative pendants at work stations and reception offer a “beacon of light” and serve as a wayfinding method. Throughout the DDU, adaptable furniture and modular casework are designed to be easily modified as needs, treatment protocols and technology evolve over time.
Setting the Standard

Setting the Standard

As the evidence-based design standard for future Sarah Cannon DDUs and oncology treatment centers nationwide, the design team created a design toolkit based on the research, findings and design of the Franklin location. With an understanding of how the built environment can support the success of clinical processes, the DDU’s design is indicative of the organization’s steadfast attention to patient and staff needs, and reflective of Sarah Cannon’s mission to redefine cancer care around the world through clinical excellence and cutting-edge research.


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Brent Hughes, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP
Brent Hughes, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP
Vice President