Boasting gorgeous, unobstructed views of Irvine from each of its four floors, the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center at City of Hope Orange County in Irvine has entered the final phases of construction on its $1 billion 197,000 square foot outpatient cancer care and research facility. Located at FivePoint’s Great Park, the City of Hope Orange County is expected to be completed in 2022.

During a recent tour of the soon-to-be-completed facility, Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, explained that City of Hope’s newest facility will bring more than 1,000 physicians and cancer researchers into Orange County.

Annette Walker, President of City of Hope Orange County. (Evan Lancaster/Irvine Weekly)

Following the theme of City of Hope’s campus in Duarte, which spans more than 120 acres, the campus at City of Hope Orange County will feature walkable gardens, an aspect of development that Walker explained was extremely important to patients and their families. 

“If you haven’t been to City of Hope Duarte – they have 125 acres and beautiful gardens – and those beautiful gardens are part of what contributes to the healing environment of City of Hope,” she said.  “Not only have we gone to great lengths to make sure the interior of the building is very comfortable, but it’s important that patients be able to take a walk with their families, get a little sun, and sit in the shade.”

With the addition of City of Hope’s 11-acre campus at the Great Park, along with the UCI Medical Center in Irvine, Walker said City of Hope is proud to be a part of Orange County’s continuously expanding medical infrastructure and is optimistic to bring more state-of-the-art cancer care to local residents.   

“Orange County is very blessed, but what surprised us is that so many patients were coming to us from Orange County, and that 20% were leaving the county. We’re answering the community’s needs,” she said. “There’s no other organization in the county that’s 100% focused on cancer – we’re bound and determined to beat it.”

During the site walkthrough tour, guests were given a glimpse at the construction of some of City Of Hope’s state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology, including three LINAC rooms that are designed with cinder blocks infused with steel aggregate, used to shield radiation from the outside.

LINAC, also known as linear accelerators, are used in radiation treatment for different types of cancers. In terms of construction, Walker said the construction on the LINAC rooms began in September 2020, and is still being completed.   

Inside the LINAC Rooms at City Of Hope. (Evan Lancaster/Irvine Weekly)

“I never saw one built, and now I have a whole new appreciation for what a LINAC is and how we protect our patients,” Walker said. “To consider the breadth of research our facilities are going to have – 400 cancer specialists, 800 scientists and researchers that are trying to find the cures for cancers and we have 700 clinical trials – it’s a magnitude in intellectual capital that’s extraordinary. When you talk about the leading edge of cancer treatment, it’s going to be right here.” 

As the tour ended in what will eventually be infusion rooms at the top of City of Hope Orange County, Walker pointed to different handwritten messages of hope from guests and the workers that currently occupy the facility.

Jeff Fitzhugh, a City of Hope patient, wrote a message to future patients. His message, along with others will be hidden under paint. (Evan Lancaster/Irvine Weekly)

This has become a welcome tradition within the bones of City of Hope, Walker explained. After a construction worker named Adam wrote a message to his late mother with a sharpie marker on a soon-to-be painted panel of drywall, City of Hope Orange County took notice.

“To my mother Lorraine Reyes, who lost the battle with lung cancer on 9/25/2010, I dedicate this project to you and to everyone who lost the battle. May all those who enter the building find strength, courage and hope. May this building be filled with love, compassion and healing. This is a start of something new, may God bless all those who walk through these doors. I love and miss you mom every single day, my heart, sweat and tears are all in this project.” 

“We love what he [Adam] said so much, we cut it out of the drywall and we framed it and it will hang downstairs when the building is complete,” Walker explained. “Anyone we’ve toured, we allowed them to write on the wall. Some of the stuff is covered up now – but just know if you write something, it’s always, always going to be there – 50 years from now,” she said.  

city of hope Irvine

More handwritten messages at City of Hope Orange County. (Evan Lancaster/Irvine Weekly)

Dr. Amrita Krishnan, a multiple myeloma researcher with City of Hope for more than two decades, said that many of her patients in Orange County are forced to travel outside of the county for cancer treatment. However, with the addition to the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center at City of Hope Orange County, it will bring extensive care to local residents.   

“I’ve worked for City of Hope for 25 years – this is beyond my wildest dream of what we could happen,” Krishnan said. “To get the innovation that is part of City of Hope is so exciting. All we do is cancer, and deliver the future of cancer care.” 

With nearly a dozen acres reserved for City of Hope Orange County, Walker explained that once the cancer treatment and research center is complete, City of Hope has plans to build an adjoining specialty hospital that is expected to be completed in 2025.