Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Expansion Faces NIMBY Opposition

The Upper East Side expansion of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center is facing opposition from NIMBYs. Per DNA Info, the project’s opponents have said the new building would be like sitting next to a ‘morbidly obese man’ on a plane. It doesn’t make any sense, but NIMBY arguments rarely do.

To begin with, the Cancer Center’s expansion is only twenty-odd floors. That’s nothing, especially for New York City. Comparing the new expansion with existing surroundings, it’s apparent that the new Cancer Center is far shorter and much less imposing than the other towers in the vicinity, which are up to 40 stories in height.

Indeed, the Cancer Center is shorter than the smokestack across the street.

NIMBY logic is definitely sound; instead of focusing energy on tearing down an ugly old smokestack that probably caused cancer and a variety of ailments in the neighborhood, the NIMBYs want to halt the rise of a building that would be entirely dedicated to fighting fatal illnesses.

The site’s location at 73rd Street and FDR Drive merits an iconic design, and the architects definitely delivered. Designed by Perkins Eastman and Ennead Architects, the tower is a set of cantilevered boxes divided by a series of terraces.

Hospital design has tangible impacts on quality of patient care. Ultraviolet light has been shown to be extremely effective at reducing the spread of hospital-borne illnesses, so maximizing the amount of light inside a building is very important.

Perkins Eastman and Ennead Architects obviously took this into consideration when designing the hospital, as the cantilevered design will allow light to flood through the entire structure. The building’s location adjacent to the East River also guarantees that the hospital’s light will never be blocked by new structures.

The new hospital is anything but imposing, and the comparisons NIMBYs have offered in their arguments against the new tower are ludicrous. In size and impact, the Medical Center has nothing in common with a ‘morbidly obese man,’ and will deliver tangible benefits to New Yorkers at large as well as the Upper East Side in the form of enhanced medical care.

Instead of gratitude for a fantastically-designed structure that will offer ground-breaking treatments for cancer patients, NIMBYs remain indignant, and would rather the site remains a parking garage.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, Image from the NYC Mayor’s Office
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, Image from the NYC Mayor’s Office

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