Work continues on two staff support buildings at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta’s new $1.5 billion campus in North Druid Hill, DeKalb County. Once the support buildings are completed, work will begin on a new 466-bed pediatric hospital.
(Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta photo)
In the first phase of a $1.5 billion plan to develop a new campus in North Druid Hills, DeKalb County, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is constructing two support buildings that will house all of its administrative staff.
Once the support buildings are delivered, work can begin on a new 446-bed hospital, which will be located at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road.
"When complete, the office buildings will offer the support staff of Children's a workplace with open floor plans and a variety of common amenities, including staff dining, a coffee shop, a fitness center, employee health clinic and outdoor work, meeting and dining spaces," a press release from Children's Healthcare stated. "Once the new campus is complete in 2025, employees will be able to easily walk or drive to the new hospital, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, and other parts of the new campus without accessing nearby surface streets."
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia's largest pediatric health care system, is demolishing existing buildings to make room for the attached medical office building, a central utility plant and two parking decks.
J. E. Dunn began work in the new buildings in March 2018 and expects to complete them in 2020. Hendrick Inc. is the interior architect and Atlanta-based tvsdesign is the lead architect for the support buildings' core and shell.
"It will create a work environment with improved opportunities for collaboration and innovation for our support teams," Linda Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, said of the support buildings. "As we invest in our medical and support facilities, the goal is to attract and retain the best clinicians and staff so that Georgia's children continue to receive the specialized care they deserve."
Children's Healthcare's existing office park is located at 1600 Tullie Circle in Brookhaven, just north of Atlanta proper. The support buildings will be located at the north end of the planned North Druid Hills campus.
Demolition, which brought down two buildings in the current office park, was completed early in the second quarter of 2018, and site preparation for the first support building wrapped up in third quarter. Site prep for the parking and second support building is ongoing.
Currently, 97.6 percent of construction waste has been diverted from area landfills, an important element of Children's Healthcare's commitment to sustainability.
The new buildings, with a combined 593,000-sq.-ft. footprint, will each have six levels above grade and two levels below grade. The exterior design of both buildings is a mixture of traditional and modern architecture, with brown brick cladding and large windows that will fill the interior with natural light.
The hospital has already transferred employees working in the buildings that were demolished to nearby office buildings.
"Having all of our support staff in these dedicated buildings will provide a best-in-class workplace environment where our staff can collaborate more efficiently," said Matzigkeit.
The support buildings are designed to achieve LEED certification and are currently on track for LEED Silver.
Two tower cranes are on site supporting construction as contractors work to complete the buildings and an associated parking deck. A third tower crane will be erected to supplement the construction of the second support building. Multiple mobile cranes are in use around the site.
The interior work — HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and installation of the finishes — is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2019.
J.E. Dunn and 20 Atlanta area subcontractors will have more than 500 workers on site on peak days. The amounts of new construction materials are still being determined.
Construction equipment includes cranes, dozers, excavators, and loaders, as well as elevators to bring materials to the upper floors.
Children's Healthcare has worked closely with the community throughout the planning process, hosting six community meetings thus far to secure feedback on the community's needs and keeping the surrounding neighbors in the loop as the plans developed.
One key challenge is traffic as the area had long been targeted for transportation upgrades, and Children's Healthcare is taking a lead in making those upgrades happen.
"We are investing more than $40 million in transportation upgrades and planning," said Children's Healthcare spokesman Brian Brodrick. "We are enhancing pedestrian connectivity so our employees can reach the support buildings — and eventually, the hospital — safely by car, on bikes or on foot. We are helping Brookhaven and GDOT plan a new intersection at I-85. And we are upgrading and investing in multiple local roads and entries to our new campus. We know that for this campus to best serve our patients and their families, the campus must also work for the surrounding community."
The project was greenlighted Nov. 9, 2018, when the Georgia Department of Community Health approved a Certificate of Need (CON) for the planned 446-bed pediatric hospital in Brookhaven.
The CON application was submitted in June 2018 and related to additional beds and expanded services. In combination with a previously approved Letter of Determination from the Georgia Department of Community Health, the CON allows Children's Healthcare to relocate the beds and services from Egleston Children's Hospital to the new location and expand to meet future needs.
"We are pleased that the department recognized the long-term value of this new hospital for Georgia's current and future generations of children," said Donna Hyland, president and CEO of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "We remain laser-focused on top-quality patient care and operational excellence at all of our facilities as we plan to start construction on the new hospital in early 2020."
Brasfield & Gorrie LLC was awarded the contract to build the new hospital.
The goal is to complete the construction of the campus in 2025, including the new hospital, the two support staff buildings, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, more than 20 acres of greenspace and miles of walking trails and paths.
Construction of the new campus is being funded by reserves, bonds and donations.
"The additional beds and expanded services are necessary so that Children's can meet projected pediatric demand in Georgia," said Chris Chelette, vice president of planning, design and construction for Children's Healthcare. "These additional beds, when added to Egleston's existing bed total and potential future expansions, will allow Children's to meet its projected need for a 446-bed hospital at North Druid Hills. After a rigorous planning process, we are confident that our projections will meet the needs of Georgia's kids for the next decade — and beyond."
The new hospital will provide increased access to pediatric care; expand teaching and research; and provide room to accommodate peak demand.
"Demand for our services is growing faster than Georgia's population as we serve more children who live and thrive with chronic conditions, driving the need for additional beds," said Chelette. "As we serve children from all 159 Georgia counties and beyond, this new campus at North Druid Hills and I-85 is easily accessible from the highways that cross our state. This increased visibility is likely to increase patient visits to the hospital.
"The system engaged in extensive long-range planning to determine its future bed needs and develop a hospital facility that will serve children in our region for the next 50 plus years — providing the specialized care needed just for kids and teens," he added. "While Children's sees growth needs across its system, it is efficient to concentrate inpatient growth through 2025 at North Druid Hills. We have looked deeply at how to deliver care in the highest quality and most cost-efficient way. The new construction enables even better coordination across our three campuses"
The new hospital, at more than 1.4 million sq. ft., will be built on a site occupied by 14 one-story office buildings currently used by Children's Health Care staff.
When the new hospital opens, Children's Healthcare will no longer operate an inpatient facility at Egleston. The long-term use of Egleston's campus will be determined during the planning process over the next several years.
"Part of our job is to look to the future and determine how we can best continue to serve Georgia's children," said Chelette. "In doing so, we realized we were running out of space at our current facilities. We believe this campus will not only allow us to serve generations of Georgia's children for decades to come, but also serve as a catalyst for improvement in the area."
The 7-acre Egleston campus has 325 beds and saw more than 320,000 patient visits and 75,000 emergency visits in 2017. The new hospital at North Druid Hills is 2.83 mi. from Egleston and will sit on 78.5 acres, with 20 acres reserved for green space.
The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, part of the new campus, opened last July and is seeking LEED Gold certification. This medical office facility, with 260,000 sq. ft. of space, is the only one of its kind in Georgia as it brings together multiple pediatric clinics, programs and specialists under one roof.
The eight-story structure, with HKS Inc. as the lead architect, was built by Brasfield & Gorrie. Crews started the work in January 2017.
The center, which has more than 250 rooms for patient care, exams, consults and procedures, is expected to have more than 100,000 clinic visits in its first year.
Earl Swensson Associates and EYP have been hired to be the lead architects for the new hospital.
"Our hospital design is specifically focused on how we can improve outcomes for kids, and also create the best experience for our patients and their families," said ESA/EYP's Kevin Harney. "The design will intentionally highlight the use of nature, with large amount of natural light and open views of the outdoors, along with access to green space which patients can utilize as they're receiving treatment."
The design team is currently exploring the sustainable elements that will be incorporated into the design of the hospital.
Brasfield & Gorrie is set to begin construction of the hospital in early 2020.
"Construction logistics are being planned now to enable an early 2020 start for demolition activities followed immediately by site grading," said Chelette. "Construction is expected to be four to five years, with the first pediatric patient arriving in 2025 from Egleston. We anticipate using a concrete framing for the hospital and utilizing multiple tower cranes throughout the construction process."
As the planning and scheduling process continues, the amounts of the various construction materials to be employed are being figured out and sourced. As with the construction of the support buildings, the materials from the demolitions for the hospital will be diverted from landfills.
Efforts to assemble a team of subcontractors is ongoing. When work peaks, it is expected there will be more than 1,000 workers on site on a daily basis.
Brassfield & Gorrie has a considerable fleet that includes cranes, dozers, excavators, and loaders.