A New Building to Deliver Extraordinary Care

For the past 30 years, the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center has served cancer patients at various locations throughout the hospital campus and Hackensack community.

Cancer is hard enough for patients and their loved ones. To help make cancer care a little easier, in October 2010 the John Theurer Cancer Center unveiled a $130-million, 155,000-square-foot comprehensive cancer facility spread throughout five floors. This also includes a new parking garage and skyway connecting the two buildings. The facility builds on the cancer center’s extraordinary care by providing patients with an unparalleled experience through innovative approaches in comfortable surroundings. 

This would not be possible without the generous $10 million donation by Helena Theurer in memory of her husband John Theurer.  The new facility recently opened it's doors on December 27, 2010.


The cancer center building brings the John Theurer Cancer Center’s 14 specialized divisions with research and auxiliary oncology services, including nutrition counseling and psychosocial support, together under one roof. This encourages collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach among practicing physicians and staff. Physicians are able to come together easily to prepare the best treatment plan for every patient.

The lobby is a work of art featuring a flight of soaring hand blown glass birds and an inspiring Living Wall accompanied by a waterfall.

  • Patients are welcomed to an inspiring Living Wall designed to be a symbol of rejuvenation and strength that all living things share.
    • One of the first Living Walls installed in a hospital in the United States.
    • Made of more than 30 plant species, all hydroponically growing without soil.
    • Not only aesthetically beautiful, the wall breaks down indoor air contaminates through entirely natural processes, releasing purer, cleaner air.
  • The acoustic poetry of a 24-foot waterfall in the middle of the Living Wall rounds out the sensory experience.
  • More than 200 Murano glass-blown birds schematically developed from the John Theurer brand iconography are suspended from the ceiling and lit from above with high intensity lamping.
  • Large glass walls flood the space with natural light, casting shadows of the birds on the floor to create a sense of movement throughout the atrium and passageway in the Living Wall.

The new facility is designed as an oasis for patients and their loved ones to help them feel comfortable and secure.

  • A spectrum of colors found in nature and finishes are incorporated throughout the building to instill a sense of calm and to color-code each floor.
  • A walk-through terrace garden, tranquility/meditation rooms and fitness center are available to help patients and caregivers relax and rejuvenate.
  • The terrace garden includes 2,000 square feet of accessible sitting walkway areas with benches,and 1,000 square feet of drought-tolerant decorative planters and shrubs. There is also a space allocated for a vegetable garden to teach cancer patients how to grow their own food and eat healthy.
  • A business center/patient library and cyber café provides patients with the technological resources they need to stay connected and continue living a normal life.
  • On-site demonstration kitchen that offers cooking lessons to help patients and families learn how to manage their appetite while undergoing therapy.

The facility circulation is designed to “reduce patient steps” –eliminating backtracking and unnecessary movement.

  • The facility has resources and activities, such as the business center/patient library, cyber café and fitness center, that allow patients and caregivers to continue living productive, normal lives during treatment.
  • The infusion bays are clustered in small groups that allows for more rapid, seamless treatment therefore reducing patient wait times.
  • A skyway connecting the fourth floor of the new building to a parking garage also reduces patient steps.
  • A new five-story parking garage is only a few feet away from the cancer center building.

The building is designed to be environmentally friendly with sustainable features that include:

  • Interior gardens on the third and fourth floors increase exposure of natural light.
  • A green roof at the second floor terrace.
  • High albedo and white roofing reduces heat island effect.
  • Fritted glass in the lobby reduces solar heat gain.
  • Temporary rainwater storage controls ease load on local storm sewers.
  • Bicycle storage with adjacent employee showers encourages alternative forms of transportation.

The new building allows the John Theurer Cancer Center to further support the development of innovative therapies and approaches to improve patient outcomes. Breakthrough advances being pioneered in this new facility include:

  • A dedicated Phase 1 Unit
  • Tumor banking to help development of biomarkers as part of the John Theurer Cancer Center's clinical trials
  • New modalities of delivery of radiation
  • Future molecular imaging technology

ZGF Architects LLP, an internationally recognized firm that has designed cancer facilities for the nation’s most important institutions, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Center and National Institutes of Health, designed the building in association with Ronald Schmidt and Associates, an American of Institute of Architecture award-winning design practice. 

R&S Landscaping, a Midland Park, N.J.-based landscaping firm, has designed and installed the building’s green roof and vegetable garden. 

To ensure a distinctive, comforting environment which reinforces the concept of renewal, the John Theurer Cancer Center turned to J/Brice Design – the international authority in hospitality design – who has created award winning one-of-a-kind properties for major hotel chains across four continents, including properties for the Royal families of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

William Blanchard Co. of Springfield was the construction firm for the cancer center. The Creamer-Sanzari Joint Venture built the 960-space parking garage, which opened earlier this year.

For those interested in providing a donation to the new building, please visit humcfoundation.com.