Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute remains true to Dr. Sidney Farber's vision of a cancer center that is as dedicated to discoveries in cancer research as it is to delivering compassionate, patient-centered care.

Research Explorer

Showcasing Dana-Farber’s growing online collection of publications and papers, the Research Explorer dramatically illustrates the breadth and interconnectedness of the institute’s textual corpus across twenty screens suspended on the street- facing wall in the main lobby of the institute’s research building.

Against the backdrop of a gently undulating typographical “sea” representing DFCI’s expansive body of knowledge, the Research Explorer selects and presents short excerpts of the institute’s publications. Once an excerpt is displayed, the Research Explorer visibly analyzes the text, identifies important words, and correlates these words across other articles as well as researcher biographies, related imagery, and glossary terms.

In front of the display, along the windows, there are six iPads, mounted in pairs on three tables. These iPads display a smaller version of the visualization on the wall screens. They are attached with an articulated arm, allowing visitors to pull the devices away from the surface of the table and into a position of interaction. A curious visitor can read the full versions of any of the article excerpts presented on the iPad screen by tapping them. The large display subtly reflects the explorations of the iPad user in two ways: by increasing the likelihood that an article being viewed on an iPad will appear on the large display and by interpreting the kinetic movement of the user’s scrolling through an article.


The Dana Farber Cancer Institute asked Small Design Firm to create an installation that would allow them to thank their donors and allow donors to express why they are dedicated to cancer research. Small Design Firm created a school of interactive Zebrafish, each one engraved with the name of the person it is dedicated to. When touched, the Zebrafish lights up, and a message from the donor is displayed on one of three screens that are part of the installation.

Jimmy’s Junction

Jimmy’s Junction is a lively and complex environment that behaves in different ways depending on the time of day, as well as the presence and movement of people in front of it. The overall aim of the wall is to project an aura of friendliness and comfort while easing the transition from waiting room to clinic. The means by which the wall achieves this depends on both the time of day and the presence of people.