Case Study

USC Norris Healthcare Center New Cancer Care Facility Sets Tone for Innovation

Los Angeles, California, USA

The Challenge

The University of Southern California wanted to create a major regional and national resource for cancer research, treatment, prevention and education at its South Central Los Angeles campus. HKS designers were challenged to make the structure contemporary in character and convey to users that they are visiting a high-quality, state-of-the-art health care facility.

The Design Solution

The 112,000 square-foot medical building rises six stories above ground, where a plaza and terrace levels create indoor-outdoor continuity. Combining multidisciplinary clinics, outpatient surgery facilities, food services, conferencing and administrative areas, the contemporary design expresses confidence and visually pleasing layers of glass and folding planes. Picture windows and glass curtain walls are strategically placed for views and sunlight to promote healing and wellness. The use of GFRC panels on the west facade references similar materials used on adjacent campus buildings. A full-height glazed curtain wall faces Alcazar Street and takes advantage of distant views. This facade faces future campus development and will be the building’s signature view.

The Design Impact

With the addition of this new facility to the campus, the adjacent hospital and surrounding clinics decompress and expand clinical services. Mock workflow sessions were held for staff prior to opening, simulating visits with patients to evaluate and refine operations plans and systems integration – all to create an efficient and valuable experience for everyone involved in the facility. A yoga studio, retail space and dining options at the Terrace Café, including Starbucks, further establish the outpatient center as an amenity-rich environment. As a leading academic medical center in Southern California, the campus already attracts physicians, nurses, academics and patients from all over the world. With a new facility featuring the latest in technology for imaging, infusion and evidence-based design, participation by both providers and patients has increased. For the eighth consecutive year, Keck Medicine of USC hospital has been named among the best in the country by US News & World Report, a distinction only 3 percent of hospitals receive. The Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center also advanced in 2018 to its highest ranking ever among specialty services. Designed to LEED Silver standards, the building is also home to USC’s world-class Urology Department.

Project Features

  • 110,000 square feet (10,219 sm)
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory
  • Outpatient surgery and procedure rooms
  • Six stories
  • 490 parking spaces
  • OSHPD 3
  • NCI designated cancer center
  • 3,200 square-foot (297 sm) imaging center


  • 2019 Commercial Real Estate Healthcare Silver Award, Dallas Business Journal