July 15 | Construction of the 12-story expansion to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will reach its highest point Sept. 26 when the campus celebrates the building’s “topping out.”
The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the top level of the UAMS Outpatient Center parking deck at the corner of Cedar Street and Capitol Avenue. During the ceremony, a steel beam signed by UAMS employees and supporters will be placed atop the building’s structure.
The 300,000-square-foot expansion is expected to open in 2010, with up to seven floors completed in the first phase. The expansion will greatly increase the research and clinic space available in the institute’s existing Walker Tower.
“This expansion will make way for us to substantially increase our capacity for cancer research in several areas, including our highly regarded breast cancer program and a new leukemia/lymphoma program,” said Peter Emanuel, M.D., Cancer Institute director. “It also will provide our patients and their families with a warm and comfortable environment that we hope will aid in their healing process.”
In April 2007, Gov. Mike Beebe signed a bill allowing the state to provide up to $46 million in matching funds to build the expansion. To date, $28.5 million of the $46 million has been raised and matched.
In total, $95 million has been raised toward construction of the expansion. This amount includes donations received prior to the commencement of the match, which is in effect from Jan. 1, 2007, to June 30, 2009. The first phase of the construction is expected to cost about $130 million.
“This expansion could not have been possible without the support of Gov. Beebe and the Arkansas Legislature, as well as our many donors in the community,” Emanuel said. “As Arkansas’ only academic cancer research facility, we have a duty to the people of Arkansas to continue our search for better treatments and to provide the highest quality cancer care close to home. The expansion will help us make this a reality for more Arkansans than ever before.”
The number of patient visits to the Cancer Institute has grown since it was established in 1984 and is expected to continue. In fiscal year 2007, there were 120,000 patient visits, compared to 75,000 in 2000. Patient volume has already surpassed predictions made in 2005, in part because of new patients, but also because of new life-prolonging treatments.
CDI Contractors, Inc. is the general contractor for the expansion. Cromwell Architects Engineers of Little Rock and FKP Architects of Houston are the architecture/engineering firms for the project.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year.