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A 68-ft.-tall, open-air “lantern of hope” soars above the three-story façade of the new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center.

A 68-ft.-tall, open-air “lantern of hope” soars above the three-story façade of the new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center.

From the start, the team adapted and focused on a phased development approach that began with the construction of the cancer center project.

From the start, the team adapted and focused on a phased development approach that began with the construction of the cancer center project.

Light Shines Brightly on Successful Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center Project

A 68-ft.-tall, open-air “lantern of hope” that soars above the three-story façade of the new Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, AZ, projects a symbolic identity of hope for the hundreds of patients and visitors who will benefit from treatment at the 133,000-sq.-ft. premier facility each year.

Team Players

Customer: As a leading provider of healthcare, Banner Health is deeply committed to the mission: “To make a difference in people’s lives through excellent patient care.” As a nonprofit, Banner Health exists to provide healthcare services to the communities it serves, rather than generate profits.

Customer: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s mission is to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees and the public.

Project: Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center

Architect: Cannon Design

Project Hightlights:

  • The project was completed on a 17-month fast-track schedule.
  • The entire DPR and Banner team co-located within five side-by-side trailers on the project site.
  • DPR was recently selected as the general contractor on the design of the second phase of the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center.

On the project level, the same lantern also shines a spotlight on a highly successful and collaborative delivery process. Architect Cannon Design and DPR were engaged early in the process with Banner Health as it developed plans for a dedicated cancer treatment facility. In 2009, when construction started after a long site selection process, the location chosen for the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center was the existing Banner Gateway Medical Center campus. From the start, the team adapted and focused on a phased development approach that began with the construction of the cancer center project.

“From the outset there was no room for error,” said Camilo Garcia, who oversaw the project for DPR. “The most important factor in our success was how cohesively the team was able to work together and ultimately meet all the goals we had set from both a schedule and performance standpoint.”

The programming for the new facility incorporated a full range of services, including radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, cryogen laboratory and other patient-related services—all of which were completed on a 17-month fast-track schedule by July 2011.

At the same time that DPR was building the new cancer center, it was also refurbishing space inside the existing Banner Gateway Medical Center, as well as performing interior renovations to space within an existing medical office building.

To complete all work simultaneously, the project team employed a variety of tools designed to facilitate a high level of coordination and collaboration. For starters, the entire DPR and Banner team co-located within five side-by-side trailers on the project site.

“It was a very good, interactive process that really worked,” Garcia said, adding that it facilitated quick decisions while building camaraderie and teamwork.

BIM was fully utilized to model the project and avoid potential clashes. Lean planning techniques, including Last Planner, were combined with the Critical Path Method and used to track the big picture process and meet critical schedule dates. Key subcontractors also were brought in early on during the design phase to provide constructability and costing input.

DPR also pioneered an effort to run a virtually paperless project, with 100 percent of requests for information (RFIs), submittals and other reports completed electronically. Modeled after this project, the town of Gilbert has since adopted a fully electronic process for permitting and plan review.

The collaborative team approach between Banner, Cannon and DPR was particularly critical when it came to designing and constructing the project’s key architectural feature, the “lantern of hope.” This intricately designed element is illuminated at night with color-changing light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which coordinate with the colors associated with each cancer awareness month of the year. With the main materials imported from Germany, the lantern was not only a long-lead item but also “a very technically challenging component that required a detailed effort by the entire team,” Garcia said. That was also true of the design and construction of the three massive concrete linear accelerator vaults, a process that required the project team to balance the schedule requirements with the owner’s need for flexibility. By doing so, the project team deferred their equipment selection and procurement as long as possible to acquire the most technologically advanced equipment.

Ultimately, the DPR team successfully met all the challenges, completing the project on schedule and under budget—and with rave reviews from the owner. “The Cancer Center…looks spectacular,” commented Kip C. Edwards, vice president, Development and Construction, Banner Health. “This has been the best execution of a project I have seen in my 35-year career.”


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