The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) is located at 40 Enterprise Parkway in Hampton, Virginia. Proton therapy is a form of radiation treatment that targets cancerous tumors without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. There are only 8 other such treatment centers in the United States and the HUPTI is the largest in the world at 98,000 square feet – it is also the only proton therapy institute in Virginia. This state-of-the-art facility sits on 5.5 acres and houses waiting rooms, a nurse’s station, indoor and outdoor recovery and therapeutic areas, and five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed-beam room – with the latest options for patient positioning and nozzle technologies.
While under care at the HUPTI, patients are enveloped in a calming atmosphere. Of note are two outdoor areas (designed by MSA, P.C.) that offer therapeutic and meditative settings to aid in their physical and emotional recovery. The Healing Japanese Garden, located on the western side of the facility, features a flagstone patio and wooden deck surrounded by potted plants, flowering weeping cherry trees, shrubs and annuals, raked sand and river stone. With ample sunlight filling the garden, patients often wander the garden or sit on a Japanese-style bench to reflect. Even the bamboo privacy fencing complements the theme. The facility also offers a Therapeutic Plaza that features a pond with fountains, a flagstone pathway with ground cover, landscape lighting, a clock tower and a seatwall that mirrors the curve of the building. Patients visiting this plaza enjoy the many raised planters, flowering Crape Myrtle trees, annuals and Evergreen shrubs. The healing process involves more than just time and medical care. These outdoor areas succeed in ensuring the holistic needs of each patient are met during treatment and recovery.
Another first occurred over 100 years later when the first hospital-based proton treatment center in the US began treating patients. Over the next two decades additional proton therapy centers were created in close proximity to major cancer centers and large patient bases. For the typical patient, the experience of being treated at a proton therapy institute can be intimidating. Massive equipment, including rational gantries that are 30-feet tall from floor to ceiling, is traditionally housed in a cavernous setting to protect the surrounding population from potentially dangerous radiation. Often these facilities are located below ground with minimal daylight or access to the outside world.
The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute design team sought to create a more open, warm, patient-friendly environment than traditional centers. Nearly the entire building is infused with daylight. Patients and visitors enter the reception and waiting areas of the building through a two-story glass-enclosed atrium, which is enhanced with views of a natural landscape bordering a lake.
The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute meets all of the strict functional, safety, and space requirements for a state-of-the-art proton therapy center, while aesthetically providing a far more comfortable environment.