The $29-million, 125,000-sq-ft Helen F. Graham Cancer Center expansion at Christiana Care in Wilmington, Del., brings together under one roof an array of oncology diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services and the Center for Translational Cancer Research. The research center is a formal alliance between the cancer center, the University of Delaware in Newark, the Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute in Newark.

Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care, Wilmington, Del.
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care, Wilmington, Del.

The layout allows doctors and scientists an opportunity to work together closely and quickly to better serve patients. The collaborative relationship between science and medicine creates the potential to make forward strides in understanding and treating cancers.

Nason divided the project into core and shell and fit-outs, with separate superintendents for each phase. It completed the core and shell and a number of the fit-outs in May, on time and with a $500,000 savings, which was returned to Christiana Care Health System.

The company managed more than 80 subcontracting firms that completed the core and shell and eight concurrent fit-out projects without having a safety incident.

The new cancer center connects to the original building by a glass-enclosed walkway and reflecting pool. The top floor features a 6,000-sq-ft laboratory.

Key Players

Owner: Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
Construction Manager: Nason Construction, Wilmington
Architect: HKS, Richmond, Va.
Engineer: Vandemark & Lynch, Wilmington
Consultant: Furlow Associates, Claymont, Del.
Consultant: Macintosh Engineering, Wilmington
Consultant: TBS Services, Hadden Heights, N.J.

The second-floor roof over the main entrance to the building features a green, vegetative garden where patients can walk outside and enjoy pleasant weather while receiving treatments or waiting for appointments. On the first floor, patients and families may visit a meditation room for reflection, relaxation and meditation during treatment. Outside, they can walk a labyrinth.

The margin of error in completing the project was slim, and effective communication methods were crucial to keeping the project running smoothly. Nason kept all parties up to date with weekly meetings. Despite the changes, the team made steady progress on both physical and administrative work to keep the project on schedule and to open on time.