UChicago Medicine updates plan for the city’s first freestanding cancer facility, following 10 months of community input

Rendering of new UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center hospital
An exterior rendering shows the proposed standalone cancer center and hospital, which will be located at East 57th Street between South Maryland and Drexel Avenues.

After 10 months of planning and community engagement, the University of Chicago Medicine has updated its original proposal to build the city’s first freestanding cancer hospital with an enhanced design that incorporates feedback from patients and residents of the South Side. The new cost and size of the project is $815 million for a 575,000-square-foot facility, with the ability for future expansion.

The project’s scope reflects community-driven, patient-focused changes made following the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s approval of a master design permit in March 2022. The permit allowed UChicago Medicine to spend money on design and site planning and afforded the time to get input from members of the community, cancer patients and survivors.

We will be building a model for groundbreaking cancer care and prevention — established on the principles of access, equity, dignity and innovation — right here on the South Side of Chicago.

Changes to the cancer center project include patient-focused enhancements including a redesign of the ground-floor space to be a community hub for cancer prevention, screening and diagnoses, as well as private infusion bays, a dedicated breast center and shell space for future growth and technologies that have yet to be developed. The facility represents one of UChicago Medicine’s largest investments in the South Side community.

The new proposal is outlined in UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council, which is composed of volunteers who represent a cross section of its service area. The campaign also included pushing out 200,000 surveys in-person and via social media and e-newsletters, conducting a telephone poll, hosting two town halls, attending community meetings, getting patient feedback, and engaging faith leaders, community hospitals and civic officials.

“We have an opportunity to build a world-class facility for our patients and the community that propels UChicago Medicine to become the premier destination for comprehensive cancer care, where groundbreaking science and compassionate care meet to provide an unrivaled approach to conquering cancer,” said Tom Jackiewicz, President of the UChicago Medicine health system. “We will focus on a full-service patient and family experience offering a multidisciplinary approach, personalized therapies and clinical trials, as well as cancer prevention, screening and diagnosis, healthy lifestyle classes and more.”

A Local, Global Destination

UChicago Medicine is already a world-renowned cancer center with international reach and one of only 71 hospitals within the U.S. designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as delivering cutting-edge cancer care to patients in its communities since 1973. Its NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center designation is the highest federal rating a cancer center can achieve, yet many residents still leave the South Side to receive care.

UChicago Medicine’s project proposes greater access to, and a dedicated space for, the treatment and management of the entire life cycle of cancer — from pre-diagnosis, cancer treatment, remission and beyond.

“South Side patients should not have to leave their neighborhoods to access world-class, human-centered cancer care that similarly attracts patients regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Jackiewicz. “A comprehensive inpatient and ambulatory cancer facility of this caliber will mean more lives saved locally and around the globe.”

A comprehensive inpatient and ambulatory cancer facility of this caliber will mean more lives saved locally and around the globe.

The new cancer center and hospital will build on nearly a century’s worth of cancer-related achievements and discoveries at the University of Chicago. Its physician-scientists have made landmark breakthroughs — from the discovery that tumors feed on hormones to the first use of chemotherapies in treating leukemia to the demonstration of cancer’s genetic nature. In 2017, UChicago Medicine became the first site in Chicago and Illinois to be certified to offer a revolutionary therapy for adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and for children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. CAR T-cell therapy involves a process that uses a patient’s own genetically re-engineered T cells to find and destroy cancer cells.

“UChicago Medicine has more than 200 cancer researchers and physicians who are working to prevent and reduce cancer’s devastating effects through clinical, translational and basic science research and advanced patient care,” said Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Director of the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We can easily collaborate with colleagues across the University of Chicago, including microbiome specialists, molecular engineers, chemists, physicists, data scientists, economists, public policy researchers, psychologists, social workers and many more to tackle the toughest challenges in cancer.”

Watershed Investment

The project’s $815 million construction cost to build a 575,000-square-foot facility makes it one of UChicago Medicine’s largest-ever expansion efforts to serve the community. Recent major projects were the $700 million construction of the 1.2-million-square-foot Center for Care and Discovery (which opened to patients in February 2013) and the $39 million expansion of the adult Emergency Department (late December 2017), which allowed for the launch of Level 1 adult trauma care (May 2018).

At least 41% of contract dollars will be awarded to minority-owned and woman-owned firms. And area residents will be given priority for workforce positions. The project is expected to generate about 500 construction jobs.

If approved by the state Review Board, the cancer hospital will add to the growing healthcare ecosystem aimed at reducing health inequality on Chicago’s South Side. They include a collaborative of 13 South Side care providers, including UChicago Medicine, that launched the View a fact sheet about the proposed cancer center and hospital (PDF)

Learn more about the new cancer center

Medical oncologist Sonali Smith, MD, and lymphoma patient Clayton Harris

UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

UChicago Medicine is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, the most prestigious recognition possible for a cancer institution. We have more than 200 physicians and scientists dedicated to defeating cancer.

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2022 Comprehensive Cancer Center Annual Report

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2022 UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center annual report