CHICAGO — The University of Chicago Medicine is spending millions to build a massive cancer care and research facility on the South Side. 

With construction equipment just feet away, the ceremonial groundbreaking for Chicago’s newest comprehensive cancer center got off the ground on Tuesday.

“It is because people need us that we dare build this freestanding cancer center,” said Marsha Sumner, director of Spiritual Care at the University of Chicago Medicine.

The 575,000-square-foot, seven-story pavilion at the corner of South Maryland and East 57th will be among the country’s most advanced cancer research and treatment centers.

Renderings of the new $815 million University of Chicago Medicine cancer care and research facility, expected to open in 2027 on the city’s South Side. (Photo: Provided)

The $815 million cost, physicians say, reflects the seriousness of bringing better healthcare closer to communities of color who often need it the most. 

“The fact that it’s located here, kind of in the middle of a vibrant community (means) we’re really also bringing a lot of research elements to this center,” said Dr. Nita Lee with UChicago Medicine.

The facility will combine the research and therapies of only a few dozen designated cancer centers nationwide and the emotional care often needed for patients. 

“As a 20-year survivor of colorectal cancer who experienced disparities, I know what it’s like and been like in the community on which this hospital is going to stand,” said Candace Henley, chair of UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul was among those in attendance for the Sept. 19 groundbreaking. The state’s top prosecutor became emotional talking about his cancer diagnosis seven years ago, which would lead him to UChicago for treatment.

The moment of reflection on what a state-of-the-art facility could mean for the city’s South Side and beyond, once built, was decisive for all involved. As the work on the building’s structure continues, so does the position of attracting patients and world-class physicians. 

“The people who come to train here have aspirations to become leaders in oncology and the only way to do that is the ability to intersect research and clinical care,” said Dr. Mitch Posner, a surgical oncologist at UChicago.

The University of Chicago Medicine’s cancer care and research facility is expected to open in 2027.