Maggie's Centre
Tom McDonald Avenue
Dundee DD2 1NH

Frank Gehry 2003

Built in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee's 'Maggie's Centre' is a cancer daycare center run as an independent charity. The growing chain of Maggie's Centres are named for, and inspired by, Maggie Keswick Jencks, who herself died from cancer in 1995.  

The architecture is critical to the concept of the Maggie's Centres. They are a reaction against the institutional environment of hospitals, and are a determination to create a friendlier place in which to personally deal with the disease.


Married to architectural writer and historian Charles Jencks, whom she met at architecture school, Maggie Keswick Jencks was well placed to bring architectural innovation to cancer care. Frank Gehry took this commission as a personal friend. Other architects commissioned to design further Maggie's Centres include Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind. 

The signature Gehry metal roof, here in stainless steel, dominates the outward appearance of the building. The center is on built on a domestic scale - a gingerbread house by itself on a sloping lawn overlooking the Firth of Tay - with the metal roof as aluminum foil over the gingerbread, pressed down irregularly by somebody's fingers.

The sculpture of the roof appears to have had more attention than its engineering, which in one or two places requires slightly awkward timber supports that should not have been necessary.

At the building's opening, Frank Gehry said, 

"It's very difficult for people to go through experiences like this, and I wanted to create a building that would be calming and accommodating, and one that would be a fitting tribute to Maggie. I think it's an inviting building, I think people will want to come inside and spend time there, and I really hope that in some small way it might contribute to a sense of rejuvenated vigor for moving forward and living life."

More spontaneously, he also commented, on seeing the complete building for the first time, 

"Wow... I didn't know I was that good."

Simon Glynn 2004

How to visit

As an operational cancer care center the building is not normally open to visitors, but the outside is accessible within the grounds of Ninewells Hospital.

By car, from the Perth Road (B911), at the roundabout just west of Dundee Airport, take the turning to the north to Ninewells Hospital and bear left signposted to Accident and Emergency. Follow Tom McDonald Avenue up the hill, and the Maggie's Center is at the top of the hill on your right.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works
Francesco Dal Co, Kurt Forster (Contributor), Hadley Soutter Arnold, Francesco Dal Co, Frank O. Gehry

Very well reviewed at

The Maggie's Centres web site, with more photographs and information, is  at

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