UAMS Opens 12-Story Expansion to Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

By Jon Parham

The 300,000-square-foot building will double the institute’s capacity for research, treatment and outreach. Its design — which includes an abundance of natural light, balconies and a healing garden — is intended to promote a comfortable environment for patients, while also promoting collaboration between clinicians and researchers.

“A tremendous amount of thought and planning went into the design of the Cancer Institute expansion,” said Peter Emanuel, M.D., Cancer Institute director. “A cancer diagnosis is one of the most difficult and challenging things a person can experience. We want this building to provide as much comfort and convenience as possible while also helping to ease our patients’ burden, lift their spirits and promote their healing process.”

Participating in the dedication ceremony were former U.S. Sen. David Pryor; Gov. Mike Beebe; UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.; and Emanuel. A group of more than 40 cancer survivors were seated alongside the podium and took part in the ceremony by tossing a ceremonial token into the institute’s Seed of Hope sculpture.

Commissioned by the Cancer Institute from Little Rock artist and University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor Michael Warrick, the Seed of Hope is located in the institute’s 12-story atrium. Upon completing their active cancer treatment, all Cancer Institute patients will be given a token to place in the sculpture and one to take home with them as a remembrance of their healing process.

The expansion is seamlessly connected to the institute’s Pat and Willard Walker Tower, which opened as a four-story building in 1989. In 1996, seven floors were added to the tower. The Cancer Institute’s patients come from every Arkansas county, all 50 states and more than 40 foreign countries. Patient visits number more than 120,000 per year. View a slideshow of construction and the completed Cancer Institute here.

“The Cancer Institute has long been a vital part of the UAMS campus. This expansion will strengthen the institute’s research, education and clinical programs by providing an uplifting and modern facility that is sure to assist us in recruiting more top-notch scientists and physicians to UAMS,” Rahn said.

Research floors feature an “open lab” concept unique on the UAMS campus. Instead of individual labs, the floors feature “bays” housing multiple investigators.

“Open labs represent the latest thinking in research design. Scientists are not only able to share equipment and resources, they also can discuss ideas and work much more collaboratively than in the past,” Emanuel said.

The cost of the cancer institute addition is $130 million. It was funded in part by $36 million in state general improvement funds that provided a dollar-for-dollar match of private donations in support of the Cancer Institute expansion and program endowments. Gov. Mike Beebe granted UAMS an additional $1.5 million from general improvement funds that had to be matched by private donations.

Another $12.3 million was donated by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to honor the late Lt. Gov. Winthrop P. Rockefeller, who died in 2006 at age 57 from myeloproliferative disease, a blood disorder related to leukemia. The foundation’s gift was made to help fund the expansion and also to fund two endowed chairs in the lymphoma and leukemia program. Rockefeller was the son of former Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. Other funding for the project includes $35 million from bonds paid for with the state’s settlement with the tobacco industry.

Following the expansion’s opening, construction will continue at the Cancer Institute as the first floor of the Walker Tower is renovated to include a food court, patient support pavilion, chapel, gift shop and other services. The renovation is scheduled for completion in mid-2011.

Also planned for completion in 2011 are two research floors funded by a nearly $10.5 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced in January 2010. Funding for the grant comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus monies allocated to the NIH for construction grants.

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 colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate
school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: 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. UAMS has 2,775 students and 748 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 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. Visit or