The Georgia Department of Community Health gave Northside the green light to add seven additional stories onto the construction that is gearing up to include 146 more patient beds at Northside Gwinnett, for a total of 696 beds. (Batson-Cook Construction photo)
A project expected to compete for the title of Gwinnett County, Ga.'s tallest building recently received approval from the state to commence construction.
To accommodate growth in one of Georgia's fastest-growing counties, Northside Hospital Gwinnett is moving forward with the building of a 17-story new patient tower at one time, instead of doing so in phases, hospital officials recently announced.
The project will make the Lawrenceville, Ga., site the largest campus in the Northside system in 2025, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The Georgia Department of Community Health gave Northside the green light to add seven additional stories onto the construction that is gearing up to include 146 more patient beds at Northside Gwinnett, for a total of 696 beds.
The revised plans call for the new floors to be stacked upon the 10 floors already approved by the state, which will create 375,929 sq. ft. of space.
"This actually will make Northside Gwinnett the largest facility in the Northside system," said Steve Aslinger, the hospital system's director of facilities planning.
He added that the Gwinnett medical center's number of beds will surpass Northside's Atlanta hospital, which has space for 622 patients.
When it is complete, the Gwinnett tower could become the tallest building in the county, at a height of 257 ft., 6-in. high. Its closest competitor, local officials said, is the Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta hotel, which stands about 15 stories over Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, although the exact height of that structure could not be confirmed, according to Urbanize Atlanta.
Northside Gwinnett's glassy structure will peer down on Ga. Highway 316, a popular route between Atlanta and Athens, when it opens to the public.
Work Slated to Begin Soon
Getting permission to build an additional seven floors means the Northside Gwinnett tower will not be built in stages, as had earlier been the plan.
With state authorization granted, Northside officials now only need the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build the hospital due to its proximity to nearby Briscoe Field, and the fact the new tower will be more than 200 ft. tall. The paperwork for that approval has been filed, Aslinger said.
"We're expecting an answer any day," he added. "Once that comes in, we'll put the cranes up and get to work on the entire structure."
The tower at the Lawrenceville hospital was originally designed to encompass 17 floors, but Northside initially only had permission from state officials to build the first 10. Plans called for the final seven stories to be added later, the Daily Post reported.
Project Will Give the Hospital a Modern, Spacious Facility
The new tower will lead to some shuffling around and modernizing of some departments at Northside Gwinnett.
A third of the beds in the new tower will be used for critical care and will replace the original intensive care unit built in the 1980s, Aslinger told the Gwinnett news source. The intensive care unit rooms, he added, will be larger than the current ones with upgrades to meet patient needs.
The modern design calls for replacing the original ICU with pre-op services, and the remaining two-thirds of the new beds in the tower will be for intermediate and acute care patients.
"From a clinical perspective, we monitor what's going on and where the demands are, whether they're for cardiology, oncology, neurosurgery, orthopedics — those kinds of things," Aslinger said. "We will assign the beds appropriately based on patient needs. The [part] I am most excited about is being able to give the intensive care patients the larger rooms and the service that they need."
Northside Gwinnett Built With Growth in Mind
Aslinger noted that there has been a continued, growing demand for beds at the Gwinnett campus as more people move into the county on Atlanta's northeast side. In addition, the need was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
"We put in for the 10 stories and knew that was a volume need, and then continued to watch the growth happen in Gwinnett County," explained Aslinger. "We have worked with the state and looked ahead to what that growth is going to [look like] in seven to 10 years.
"So, as we get this new facility open in 2025, we are going to be ready for that growth that is going to be coming. It feels good to know that we can get ahead of the curve [and] not feel cramped and pressured."
In addition to Northside Gwinnett's new patient-care tower, for months the hospital system has been building a parking deck and a new medical office tower that faces Duluth Highway. Both of those projects should open next spring.
The foundation of the 17-story tower is already under construction, according to Aslinger, at a site between the new medical office building and the existing hospital.
"I think people are going to see the commitment Northside [has] made to Gwinnett County, how interested we are in the community there, and [our] desire to have truly quality healthcare at the highest level," he said.
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