Winship Emory Midtown took a major step toward revolutionizing cancer care in Georgia and beyond when Emory University Hospital Midtown and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University on August 26 celebrated the 17-story building under construction with a traditional construction topping out ceremony at the site.
When it opens in 2023, the 450,000 square foot facility will represent a dream fulfilled as it embodies Winship's vision of providing personalized cancer care to patients in the privacy of their own rooms. "Top-notch Winship specialists supported by the most advanced infrastructure will provide patient-centric care to enable cures and inspire hope for patients," said Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, FACP, FASCO, executive director of Winship. "That's the transformative care model that's going to happen in this building—the Winship Way, as we call it."
Dan Owens, CEO of Emory Midtown Hospital, offered a brief history of the building project. "We had a dream of building a facility for over a decade," he said. "About four years ago that dream became clear as to what we should build on this campus." Owens said the vision was a "never seen or imagined" state-of-the-art cancer center "that could bring revolutionized cancer care to not only the citizens of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, but regionally and internationally."
To make the dream a reality, Owens said, "obviously we needed money—and a lot of it." Winship Emory Midtown is made possible by a generous gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation—the largest ever received by Emory University—of $400 million, with half of it dedicated exclusively for the new cancer care facility in Midtown Atlanta.
Emory Midtown Hospital already had the land needed for the building, the former Linden Avenue Parking Lot. More than 200 care team members and patients collaborated to imagine a facility that had never been created before. "We also needed to find the best partners to help us realize the dream," said Owens. New York-based architecture and structural engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM), along with Atlanta-based architecture partner May Architecture + Interiors, are the design forces behind the Winship Emory Midtown facility.
The topping out ceremony is a traditional event to mark the placement of the last steel beam at the highest point of a building. In this case, three steel beams—after making their way across Winship's facilities for faculty, staff, and patients to sign them—were lifted by a crane to the top of the new building. The beams were topped by the traditional construction "Christmas tree" to symbolize good luck for the building's future occupants, continued growth, and to celebrate an important achievement.
"Winship Emory Midtown is a truly special project for Batson-Cook," said Darren Appleton, project executive for the company constructing the building. "It isn't every year, or honestly every career, that you're able to be a part of a project like this one. And one thing that's always resonated with our team is the vision to create a cancer center never seen or imagined before. You can look at the building behind me and see that vision taking shape."
Besides "raising the standard" of Midtown and all of Atlanta, Appleton said Winship Emory Midtown's most important contribution will be "the innovations that are taking place inside this building." He added, "Cancer is something that unfortunately has or will affect everybody's life in some way—yourself or family and friends. We can all be proud of fulfilling the mission that this building is built to serve."