frank gehry completes maggie's center branch in hong kong
frank gehry completes maggie's center branch in hong kong frank gehry completes maggie's center branch in hong kong
mar 11, 2013

frank gehry completes maggie's center branch in hong kong

in an effort to preserve the joy of living, the charity ‘maggie’s centers‘ have created a series of buildings since the mid-1990s dedicated to providing free emotional, practical and social support for cancer patients. this is an enlightened task of creating uplifting environments for cancer care, borne of an idea of maggie keswick jencks, wife of renown architectural theorist and landscape sculptor charles jencks.

the center is surrounded by an ample grove
image courtesy of frank gehry



while maggie passed away after a battle with breast cancer in 1995, her legacy remains, with some of the world’s foremost architects continuing to build these hopeful, palliative structures. the latest of these intimate drop-in centers is a frank gehry-designed building in hong kong, the first complete international maggie’s center. this is gehry’s second design for the charity, a labor of personal investment both in his friendship with maggie and in his experience with the loss of his own daughter to cancer while completing the design. gehry hoped to create something ‘respectful and hopeful’ that speaks to the classical chinese gardens of suzhou, characterized by delicate water features and strategic pagodas.

playful rooflines complement two ponds and shaped greenery
image courtesy of frank gehry



targeted at the newly diagnosed, recently relapsed and terminally ill cancer patients, the architecture operates under the principal that people can take an active role in their treatment and that their immediate environment has a direct impact upon their well-being. sited nearby, but separate from the tuen mun hospital oncology unit, maggie’s center hong kong is a calming refuge separated from the dense city by a grove of mature delonix trees and a bamboo fence. the site strategy is that of a series of interconnected pavilions composed to encourage movement between the comfortable interiors and the quiet garden exterior. rooms open out to the surrounding pond and contain private terraces.

the quiet complex is close to but separated from the oncology unit at the hospital
image courtesy of frank gehry



the building becomes a bridge, dividing the pond into a component of the program. one side orients spaces toward the mountains, while the other sequence of private counseling areas directly overlooks the water. a public living and dining room is the focal point of the building, while the three meditative counseling spaces are accessible only by a short bridge. the paths lead to protected gardens filled with native flowering plants and trees. maggie’s daughter and landscape architect lily jencks took care to interpret her mother’s ideas in the intimate greenery, bringing an awareness of man’s place in nature with two walled garden rooms where families can gather in the shade of plumeria trees.

rooms face a pond
image courtesy of frank gehry and lily jencks



landscape and the built form were integrated from the inception of the building; gehry’s playful rooftops complement an array of lush plants that, according to jencks, ‘represent the macrocosm of the universe within the microcosm of the landscape.’ in addition to providing free opportunities for relaxation, stress and symptom management, as well as emotional support, the architecture aims to facilitate the stages of healing in an informal, non-institutional context while allowing patients and families to discover and develop strength within themselves.

the architecture and landscape work to create shady, meditative areas for patients and families
images courtesy of frank gehry

the center of the building is a public living and dining room
images courtesy of frank gehry

consultation rooms face a second pond
images courtesy of frank gehry and lily jencks

landscape was integral to the project
images courtesy of frank gehry and lily jencks

site view
images courtesy of frank gehry and lily jencks

construction view of the angled roof
images courtesy of frank gehry and lily jencks

images courtesy of frank gehry

plan view of the landscape strategy
image courtesy of  lily jencks



project info:


location: hong kong, SAR, china
type: cancer support center
status: opened march 7, 2013
architect: gehry partners
landscape architect: lily jencks architecture + landscape with urbis HK


  • Looks like the Biomuseum in Panama.

    Bleisy says:

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