Established in 1945, Little Red Door Cancer Agency works to reduce the physical, emotional and financial burdens of cancer for medically underserved residents of central Indiana through direct services, navigation, community outreach and educational programming. We accomplish this mission by providing free support services and resources to those in active treatment and cancer survivors, and by educating the public about cancer prevention, helping people to live healthier lives and make lifestyle changes that reduce their chances of cancer.
1801 North Meridian St | indianapolis, in
Square Footage: 12,755
Employee Count: 18
Year of Buildout: 2017-2018
General Contractor: Capitol Construction
Architect / Interiors: CSO Architects, Inc
Furniture: RJE Business Interiors
How does your space drive productivity, collaboration and connectivity?
In the last few years Little Red Door has made the decision to focus on providing more secondary support services that help cancer patients access and complete their treatment programs and improve their quality of life during and after treatment. Some of these programs include yoga and fitness classes, healthy cooking classes and massage therapy. This shift in programming emphasis changed what we needed out of our existing building, so to better provide these new and expanded programs and increase their productivity and capacity we underwent a capital campaign and a complete redesign of our entire building. The overarching goal of the redesign was to turn Little Red Door’s offices into a true community center for the cancer fight community of central Indiana.
With these goals in mind, the redesign has been extremely successful in increasing the functionality of our space, helping our programs to become much more productive, helping our staff to more organically collaborate and making the entire Little Red Door community, from staff to clients, volunteers and donors be more connected. One of the most notable ways we increased the functionality of our space was by moving the client centric areas of the building to the first floor. This made programming more accessible to clients who had mobility issues, as prior to the redesign clients had to climb a flight of stairs or rely on our elevator to access our fitness, yoga, massage and cooking demonstrations. As we moved the spaces for these programs to the first floor we also enlarged and enhanced them to improve the capacity and productivity of the services we provide in them. Examples of this include our new Fitness and Yoga Studio, which has nearly doubled the floor space with which we can provide yoga and fitness programming. This enlarged space also gave us room for new cardio and weight lifting fitness equipment, and we will be using this new equipment to provide brand new fitness programming in this space through a partnership with the United Way of Greater Indianapolis. We also greatly expanded our demonstration kitchen, integrating it into a larger social space which allows for more to attend cooking demonstrations and also allows clients to gather and socialize with each other before, after and between programs, increasing collaboration and connectivity amongst our clients.
The redesign was also effective in making our staff more connected, collaborative and productive. Before the renovation our staff was scattered across disparate offices on the first and second floors, and those who worked on the same team might not even see each other on a given day due solely to the building layout. In our redesigned office all staff occupy a shared open office space on the second floor, with leadership’s offices right off of this space, allowing staff to more organically collaborate and communicate, leading to a more connected staff who are invested in each other’s success. A redesigned and expanded staff kitchen and break room combined with more options for group seating also create a higher quality shared space that encourages staff members to work together.
What is the one thing that is unforgettable when someone walks through your space?
When someone walks inside our space the first thing they will notice is an abundance of color. A thoughtful neutral paint scheme is complimented throughout the building by vibrant blues, greens, reds, pinks and other colors in the furniture, rugs and accessories. This multicolor scheme was intentional, as each of the colors in our space are meant to correspond to the different colors of cancer awareness ribbons (pink for breast cancer, yellow for bone cancer etc.). This design is made clear in our new demonstration kitchen, as the backsplash was created using eight colors corresponding to the eight most frequently diagnosed forms of cancer. The greatest implementation of this color scheme however, was manifested in a public art project Little Red Door began in the summer of 2017. At our fundraising and awareness events like Cancer Survivors Day we brought small squares of cloth corresponding to the colors of cancer awareness ribbons and asked those at these events who had been affected by cancer to write messages of encouragement to our clients on these cloth squares. When our new building opened we took these messages and affixed them to the retractable partition wall in our social space, so that when our clients are in the building they are surrounded by the encouraging and comforting messages of cancer survivors and supporters in the community. Having these messages, and the colors of awareness ribbons present throughout our space reminds us of our mission to bring awareness to the struggles of cancer patients and support them through their journey, while also letting our clients be constantly reminded of the love and support that the community has for them throughout their cancer journey.
How does your space tell your company’s story and reflect its brand?
For over 70 years Little Red Door Cancer Agency has remained embedded in the Indianapolis community, serving as central Indiana’s oldest independent cancer service agency. As we began designing our new space we wanted to make sure our building continued to reflect our enduring legacy as a center of support and service to the cancer fighting community of central Indiana, while still allowing us to upgrade our space to incorporate new programs, technologies and client service philosophies that improve the way we serve our clients, because providing the best and most up to date forms of assistance to our clients is also an important part of our brand and legacy.
One of ways this balance between pride in our past and building toward our future was played out was in the building exterior. We chose to preserve the building’s original iconic façade while adding new signage to the sides to help the building become easier to identify. Regarding service to our clients we installed a wheel chair ramp to make our building more easily accessible and we were also lucky to have a new red line bus stop located right outside our offices, making Little Red Door easy to reach for those who use public transportation. As one moves to the interior the pride in our past and legacy is displayed in our brand-new history wall, a permanent installation which shows the history of Little Red Door through photos and text. The history wall begins the journey of Little Red Door with its inception in 1945 as the purely educational outfit known as the Marion County Cancer Society and shows how our services have grown over the years to incorporate new technologies and strategies for effectively treating cancer, and how we have changed over the years to respond to the unique needs of the cancer fighting community in central Indiana. The wall also shows the different buildings we have occupied throughout our history and tells the story of how we became known as the Little Red Door Cancer Agency and why we formally adopted that name in 1995. When clients and guests view this history wall they are reminded of our history of service to the community and how deeply embedded we are in the history of central Indiana.
As clients continue into the space our enduring dedication to providing the best programs and services to our clients is clear in the upgraded spaces on our first floor. We have dedicated ourselves to providing holistic, wrap-around care that addresses all of our clients’ needs when it comes to their cancer treatment, and the new rooms in our redesigned space help us better facilitate that wraparound care. For example, our new client consultation rooms allow for improved privacy and more personal care, which allow us to better assess all of our clients’ needs the first time they visit Little Red Door. The Fitness and Yoga Studio helps us to deal with physical complications that arise with treatment, improving clients’ fitness levels, mobility and overall independence, while the Boutique helps clients deal with the appearance related side-effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Our new massage therapy room helps clients deal with physical issues while also helping to release stress and anxiety related to one’s cancer diagnosis. Further we greatly increased the size of our meeting and social spaces on the first floor. This allows our clients and programming staff to have a larger space to interact in, and it demonstrates our commitment to being a true community center for the cancer fighting community of central Indiana. All of these rooms have greatly updated the quality and capacity of our existing programs, allowed us to add new programs and improve the overall quality of experience for our clients. Through all these changes we have remained committed to preserving and celebrating our long history as an organization in service to the cancer fighting community of central Indiana, while improving the ways we make ourselves present to that community now and into the future.
How does your space engage your employee base?
While the most important goal which drove the design and remodeling of our building was to make our space more accessible to clients and centered around their needs, we were able to make several key improvements to our staff spaces to allow for a more connected, cohesive and collaborative staff. One of those changes, as previously mentioned, was moving to an open office structure. This change in structure allows our staff to more organically talk, collaborate and grow productive relationships together, and to facilitate this we added several shared working spaces within our open office to increase opportunities to work together and grow staff cohesion. To improve staff experience we also included a new hang out space with a tv and ping pong table and remodeled our staff kitchen to provide more space for shared meals, birthday celebrations and other special staff gatherings.
Another new element of our staff space which allowed our staff to have a stronger sense of ownership over the space they work in was the decision to create our own artwork to adorn the walls of our staff village. Little Red Door purchased seven giant canvases and a host of painting supplies including brushes, stencils, spray paint and even throwable paint balls, and staff spent an afternoon together painting these canvases. Designs ranged from abstract Jackson Pollackesque patterns to paintings adorned with staff handprints and stenciled initials. These paintings helped to brighten up our staff village and serve as a reminder of the shared work we all enjoy. Through these intentional upgrades to our staff spaces we have created a work environment that fosters collaboration, cohesion and a sense of ownership over the spaces where our staff work.