“Topping Off” Ceremony Marks Major Milestone in Construction of Henry Ford’s New Destination Cancer Care Facility

June 25, 2018

Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion Expected to Open in 2020


DETROIT – Joined by patients and employees, donors and community leaders, Henry Ford Health System celebrated a major milestone today in the construction of its new destination facility for the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. Today’s “topping off” ceremony marks the completion of the steel construction phase for the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion.

The building is expected to open in 2020 and will bring together outpatient cancer treatment, precision medicine, clinical trials and research, and enhanced support and retail services for patients and families. The facility is backed by a $20 million donation from Detroit philanthropist and businessman, Mort Harris, in honor of his late wife Brigitte.

“We are so delighted to reach this important milestone,” said Wright L. Lassiter, III, President and CEO, Henry Ford Health System. “As we continue to watch the amazing work being done to complete this building, we are reminded that what we are building here extends far beyond the facility itself. We are changing the whole approach to cancer care and making it accessible to patients, regardless of where they live.”

A Healing Environment

The Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion is designed to create a seamless experience, unique to each patient’s cancer journey, and will include:

  • 187,000 square feet of space
  • Six floors
  • Ample parking through a multi-level garage
  • Skywalk connection to Henry Ford Hospital
  • Specially designed gathering spaces for support groups, yoga classes, music and art therapy 

“By combining those comforts with unprecedented access to precision medicine, clinical trials and digital consumer technology, we really are creating something unique,” said Steven N. Kalkanis, M.D., Medical Director, Henry Ford Cancer Institute, and, Chair, Department of Neurosurgery. “We want to walk alongside our patients and families from the very moment their journey begins and we have carefully and thoughtfully designed both this facility and the experience to exceed their expectations.”

The Traveling Beam

A cherished tradition for ironworkers, the “topping off” ceremony was completed when crews raised a beam adorned with a customary tree and American flag to the top of the cancer pavilion and secured it in place. Today’s event was preceded by a week of celebrations earlier this spring, when another ceremonial beam traveled to all the health system’s hospital locations throughout metro Detroit and beyond, covering 276 miles over a one-week period. More than one thousand employees, donors, community leaders and members of the construction team signed the white beam, which will be permanently exposed on the second floor of the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion.

“That beam bears the names of people whose lives have been touched by cancer in some way,” said Spencer Hoover, Vice President and Executive Director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. “We really wanted the larger community to feel a personal connection to this project. Making the beam permanently visible will serve as a reminder of our commitment to keep working diligently to expand access to cancer care.”

Diversity and Inclusion

Henry Ford Health System and the cancer pavilion project manager, Turner Construction Company, share a commitment to diversity and inclusion. To date, Turner has exceeded the project’s percentage goal of trade contract awards to minority or women-owned businesses.

Additionally, Turner has partnered with KEO & Associates, Inc., providing mentorship for the life of the project at the management level. KEO, headquartered in Detroit, MI, is a certified minority business enterprise (MBE), disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE), and small business enterprise (SBE).

Turner also leads a 9-week education program dedicated to helping minority owned firms grow and enhance their construction business through training in areas including project management, bidding and contracts, operations, sales and marketing, and accounting and finance. Henry Ford Health System sponsored this year’s program, hosting classes at its administration building, One Ford Place in Detroit, MI.

Campus Expansion

The Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion is part of a 300-acre expansion and neighborhood revitalization and development initiative, located across from Henry Ford Hospital along W. Grand Blvd. and north of I-94. The new cancer facility, expected to cost approximately $155 million, will anchor the campus expansion.

“This really couldn’t come at a better time,” said John Popovich Jr., M.D., President and CEO, Henry Ford Hospital. “We have long envisioned the kind of meaningful expansion that could serve a growing population of patients through innovative treatments, research and education. The Institute of Medicine predicts the incidence of cancer in the United States will increase about 20% over the next ten years, and 40% over the next twenty. Creating a destination facility like the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion will help us achieve that goal.”


About Henry Ford Health System and the Henry Ford Cancer Institute:

Henry Ford Health System is a six-hospital system headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. It is one of the nation’s leading comprehensive, integrated health systems, recognized for clinical excellence and innovation. Henry Ford provides both health insurance and health care delivery, including acute, specialty, primary and preventive care services backed by excellence in research and education. Henry Ford Health System is led by President & CEO Wright Lassiter III. Visit HenryFord.com to learn more.

The Henry Ford Cancer Institute is one of the largest cancer programs in Michigan, providing care at five hospitals and six outpatient facilities, and dozens of aligned doctor’s offices throughout southeast and southcentral Michigan. Treatment for the most complex or rare cancers and the Institute’s extensive cancer research program is anchored by Henry Ford Hospital. For more information, visit www.henryford.com/cancer.



Brenda D. Craig

Director, Media Relations
Henry Ford Health System