Case Studies

The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital – PREMIER Design + Build Group LLC

Realizing a Consolidated Outpatient Cancer Treatment Center

The new rising wave of healthcare facilities puts the patient and healthcare providers at the center of every design. The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital and the Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion are no exception. The state-of-the-art outpatient cancer center represents a partnership between Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Ill., and the University of Chicago Medicine, which consistently ranks among the top cancer treatment facilities nationwide and is one of only two comprehensive cancer treatment centers in the state. The new center offers patients a consolidated treatment option overseen by some of the country’s most respected and experienced healthcare professionals housed in a setting that encourages healing.

The move to build a new cancer treatment center was triggered by Silver Cross Hospital’s findings that showed almost 4,800 cases of cancer diagnosed every year in Will County alone, with an estimated 70 percent of those patients seeking treatment outside the county. The findings underscored the need for a consolidated cancer treatment facility. Establishing a partnership with an institution like the University of Chicago Medicine warranted patients’ access to many clinical trials that would be otherwise out of reach.

PREMIER Design + Build Group LLC - University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer CenterThe University of Chicago’s medical school maintains more clinical trials for cancer treatment than any other cancer care program in the state, with a history of breakthroughs that include the first successful bone marrow transplants in the 1940s and the pioneering of hormone therapies to treat breast cancer beginning in the 1950s. The university’s combined medical staff at the new center represents some of the foremost authorities in gynecologic, adult and pediatric cancer care, totaling over 150 cancer care specialists and subspecialists.

Calling in the Experts

The center is a building set on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox, Ill., which is a replacement hospital for its existing facility in Joliet, Ill. Planning for a new hospital began in 2005 and was officially announced in 2007, though construction didn’t break ground until 2008. The partnership with the University of Chicago Medicine was confirmed in late 2010 and Silver Cross Hospital tapped local design-build experts PREMIER Design + Build Group LLC (PREMIER) to join the cancer center project as general contractor by May 2011.

The new center may be groundbreaking, but it is hardly PREMIER’s first foray into the healthcare market. In PREMIER’s history the team has completed its fair share of ground-up and tenant build-outs for healthcare institutions, including the first building on the new Silver Cross Campus. The two-story, 58,085-square foot medical office building and its subsequent tenant build-outs, including the 11,300-square foot outpatient clinic for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, were completed in 2009.

“One of the more unique challenges to this project was building next to a fully functioning medical office building at the same time the new hospital construction was being completed on the same site,” acknowledges Joe Ahrens, project manager at PREMIER. “We were consistently coordinating with a number of different entities. But with all of the teams involved, sharing the same overall goal, everyone was willing to work together.”

Leaving Little to Chance

Given the current demand for consolidated cancer care, the project was fast-tracked for completion. PREMIER pushed to use load-bearing architectural precast concrete so construction crews could expedite the progress. In addition, both PREMIER and RTKL Associates, the architects assigned to the project, decided on architectural precast and an aluminum-and-glass curtain wall for the building’s façade to match the rest of the campus. Crews constructed a connector link to the existing medical office building and began the tenant build-out portion of the work by late 2011.

The 22,500-square foot building is split into two levels with ample space for physician offices, exam rooms, a computer tomography (CT) imaging center, chemotherapy infusion bays and specialized cancer treatment procedure areas. The new center also houses a state-of-the-art linear accelerator, complete with a TrueBeam radiotherapy system that enables professionals to administer targeted, focused radiation treatment in a very small area, ensuring normal tissue is spared.

“Every phase of this project had its memorable moments, and standing atop the six-foot-thick walls of the linear accelerator vault was definitely an impressive one,” says Ahrens. The system requires thick concrete walls to safely contain any radiation administered, but the design for the treatment center is anything other than a drab concrete cell.

A New Era of Focused Cancer Care

In fact, PREMIER and RTKL Associates encouraged that the building’s interior should be well lit with natural sunlight where possible. It was also stated that the interior’s furnishings and walls should be of cheery, therapeutic colors to enhance a sense of healing, complemented by custom millwork and high-end fixtures throughout.

“What I love about construction in the healthcare sector is that the end-user isn’t always the client and tenant, it’s the patient,” says Ahrens. “That’s more reason than ever to keep communication lines open and make it perfect for every patient going through medical treatment.”

In this case PREMIER coordinated with a team of experienced subcontractors and RTKL Associates to ensure the project would open without a hitch. The center was named the Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion in appreciation of a $1.5 million donation made by Ed Czerkies to honor his wife’s memory. Carolyn Czerkies died at age 59 following diagnosis of myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. The $21.6 million center officially opened to the public in June 2012, effectively marking a new era for cancer treatment in Will County and another chapter of groundbreaking cancer treatment for the University of Chicago Medicine.

As for PREMIER, the market seems ripe for the company to leverage its success in the healthcare market into pursuing additional opportunities around the country. By approaching every project with an eye for not just the client’s satisfaction, but the end-user’s satisfaction as well, PREMIER Design + Build Group LLC is poised to fulfill a mission of providing excellent customer service with a quality product without throwing caution and cost to the wind.

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