UAMS Unveils $130 Million Cancer Institute Expansion

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 12:00 am  

Dr. Peter Emanuel, the executive director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences? Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, said he hopes the center becomes a world leader in the treatment of six to eight cancers.

"We'll never catch up to [the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center]; they're gigantic," Emanuel said. "But we can develop an expertise in a half dozen or so cancers and that's sort of the goal."


Expansion Plans

The Walker Tower, which houses the Cancer Institute, had been filling up since it opened with four floors in 1989. The space was split between research and patient care.

"The Walker Tower was designed to intermingle outpatient clinical floors with research floors," Emanuel said. "The thought being that if the scientists and the doctors are both in the same building, they'll see each other more often and bounce ideas off of each other."

Another seven floors were added to the Walker Tower in 1994. And 10 years later, the building was full, Emanuel said.

Emanuel said the cramped, outdated building had resulted in some scientists not coming to the Cancer Institute.

Talks about expanding the Walker Tower started in 2005. The construction plans called for expanding the Walker Tower by six or eight floors placed at the back of the building and then adding existing floors somewhere down the road, Emanuel said.

Any construction at the site, though, is a logistical nightmare, said James Scroggins, facilities planner in the construction management campus operations division for UAMS. The footprint for the expansion had to be shoehorned in between existing UAMS structures and then connected to Walker Tower, making it one large building. 

"We're right in the middle of campus," Scroggins said. Even delivering the steel to campus posed a problem because there was no place to store it.

CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock was the general contractor on the project. Most of the construction work was done on nights and weekends to avoid disturbing the patients, Scroggins said.

Building half the structure now and then returning a few years to add more floors would have been a much harder construction project, he said.



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