University of Arizona’s $100-million cancer center formally broke ground in downtown Phoenix on Feb. 21, though actual construction is likely still several months away.

Image courtesy ZGF Architects LLP
ZGF Architects designed the five-story building, which will feature 85 examination rooms and two linear accelerators.
Photo courtesy University of Arizona College of Medicing - Phoenix
Hundreds of people attended the long-anticipated groundbreaking this week in downtown Phoenix.

Located on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus at the northwest corner of Fillmore and Seventh streets, the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/Dignity Health outpatient clinic is expected to be open in 2015. The University is leasing the land from the City of Phoenix.

“We are grateful to our partners and the City of Phoenix for helping to achieve this milestone,” says UA president Ann Weaver Hart. “The potent combination of leading-edge research and exemplary patient care means that today is a new day for cancer patients in Arizona.”

The Phoenix office of Hensel Phelps Construction is building the 220,000-sq-ft, five-story facility under a design-build contract, in partnership with the Los Angeles office of ZGF Architects. The project’s comprehensive cancer services will include infusion, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, endoscopic/interventional radiology, a breast center, specialized cancer clinics, patient wellness and support services, a prevention/executive health clinic, clinical lab space and other related support spaces.

A total of about 85 exam rooms are included in the construction, along with installation of two linear accelerators. Four floors will be built out for immediate use, while the fifth floor’s shell will be constructed in anticipation of future build-out. Enclosed mechanical space will occupy part of the roof space.

St. Joseph’s, which is a part of Dignity Health in Arizona, will operate inpatient clinical cancer services at its main hospital campus on 3rd Avenue and Thomas Road, with outpatient services to be handled at the new downtown facility once it opens.

The construction is the latest project for the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is anchored by the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, and includes the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Several university colleges, including public health, pharmacy and nursing, occupy space at the campus, and last year Northern Arizona University added its College of Health and Human Services to the downtown landscape.

This critical mass of projects will make downtown Phoenix a world-class center for medical innovation and care, said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton at the event. “Not only will the UACC be an economic engine for our city and state, contributing to our downtown urban core, but we’ll also be on the forefront of cancer care and finding the cure.”

To meet the project budget, the cancer center will raise $20 million from philanthropic giving. The City of Phoenix is providing $14 million in funding, and the UA will issue $66 million in system revenue bonds. Lease revenues and operating revenues will fund the project’s debt service. 

The UA Cancer Center is one of just 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. It is the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center headquartered in Arizona and serving the entire state through a network of affiliated health care organizations and community physicians.