Two-Tiered Bridge Highlights EUH's $400M Investment

A recent topping out ceremony highlighted the newest addition to Emory University Hospital, as construction reached the final level of the new J-Wing building.

📅   Fri November 18, 2016 - Southeast Edition #24
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Emory University Hospital Expansion Project Team photo
A recent topping out ceremony highlighted the newest addition to EUH, as construction reached the final level of the new J-Wing building.
Emory University Hospital Expansion Project Team photo A recent topping out ceremony highlighted the newest addition to EUH, as construction reached the final level of the new J-Wing building.
Emory University Hospital Expansion Project Team photo
A recent topping out ceremony highlighted the newest addition to EUH, as construction reached the final level of the new J-Wing building. McCarthy Building Companies photo
Crews in Atlanta, Ga., are working to complete a $400 million expansion project at Emory University Hospital (EUH), which calls for a nine-level bed tower, street and sidewalk  improvements, a pedestrian bridge concourse and a 500-space underground parking deck. McCarthy Building Companies photo
The 450,000 sq. ft. (41,806 sq m), state-of-the-art facility will provide a total of 233 patient beds, including 23, which are reserved for critical care.

Crews in Atlanta, Ga., are working to complete a $400 million expansion project at Emory University Hospital (EUH), which calls for a nine-level bed tower, street and sidewalk improvements, a pedestrian bridge concourse and a 500-space underground parking deck. A recent topping out ceremony highlighted the newest addition to EUH, as construction reached the final level of the new J-Wing building.

“Emory Healthcare is in need of additional hospital beds to be in front of our continued growth in volume,” said David Pugh, vice president of facility and space design, Emory Healthcare. “With this growth in volume is an increase in traffic, so improved access to the facilities is a priority. We are also in the midst of road and streetscape enhancements that will improve the patient experience at Emory Healthcare and provide enhanced access for thousands of Emory University and Emory Healthcare staff, students, faculty, patients and visitors who travel on Clifton Road each day.”

The 450,000 sq. ft. (41,806 sq m), state-of-the-art facility will provide a total of 233 patient beds, including 23 which are reserved for critical care. The new space will allow staff to provide services to more cancer patients, transplant patients and those with critical care needs.

A highlight of the project is the pedestrian bridge that will connect the J-Wing to the current EUH building.

“The two-tiered bridge concourse will join Emory University Hospital to the new wing, while also connecting to the Emory Clinic and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University,” said Pugh. “One level will be for patients and visitors. The other will be for staff and for transporting patients from building to building.”

In recent years, various construction projects have been unveiled on campus. The new bed tower is part of a series of renovation and expansion efforts, some that are now complete.

“It's nice to see the Clifton Streetscape changing while we watch daily, knowing in about a year from now Clifton Road will be a wide, tree-lined corridor welcoming faculty, staff, patients, visitors and students to Emory University and Emory Healthcare facilities,” said Pugh.

Included in the new wing will be diagnostic and treatment spaces, anesthesiology pre-operative services and radiology. A food court is being built to serve patients, visitors and employees. Staff, physicians and patient family advisers have also spent long hours designing patient care rooms.

Pugh said the changes taking place are a major undertaking, but stressed that contractors have risen to the challenge from day one.

I have been amazed at how well all the companies have come together to make work seamless for all projects combined. Having a project where different companies are all working at the same time can sometimes be challenging, but these companies have been nothing but professional,” said Pugh, who stressed that while drivers will experience some congestion and lane closures during construction, at no time will access be blocked or denied to emergency vehicles or emergency drop-offs.

JE Dunn is handling the road/streetscape construction, while BDR is responsible for the design. Gay Construction heads installation of the new two-story bridge, with McCarthy Construction overseeing work on the hospital addition.

Mark Allnutt, project director for McCarthy Construction, said a number of trees had to be removed to clear space for construction of the new bed tower.

“We planned for the worst, but it really went off without a hitch. Emory Healthcare and Emory University did a great job communicating the plans to the faculty, students and staff, prior to the trees coming down.”

Teams are currently working on the exterior envelope, including framing, glass and stone.

“The interior buildouts are occurring on almost every floor, at some stage of completeness. On these floors are framing, MEP rough-ins and headwall installations. We are working on various stages of the bridges, including the pieces under the new wing around the drop-off and the portion that connects the new addition to Clinic A.

“We are constructing a large health care facility in a very confined space with other active health care facilities on all sides. Roads and access to the other facilities cannot be impacted, making this a major challenge,” said Allnutt.

“This tower is extremely large and has many beds that are needed within the Emory system. The logistics for getting materials into the project have to be coordinated to make sure they don't get here too early and get in the way of other activities. The construction team has a 22-person staff that keeps up with all the moving parts. There are almost 500 trades people here every day, making this project happen.”

When constructing a health care facility in an area where medical operations must continue nearby, crews must be extra sensitive to their environment.

“We must stay aware of our surroundings and make sure we don't impede the services being provided by both the hospital and clinics. Infection control issues are important in making sure we keep adjacent air intakes clean and free of dirt and dust. We must make sure we don't impede traffic or do so quickly, so patients can get to appointments. Noise and vibrations are also important, which means keeping them to a minimum or at a staged time, as we did when we blasted rock.”

Allnutt said working on large health care projects differs from other construction jobs because of the technical aspects of all the systems that must work together, all at the same time.

Site work included drilling of 60-ft. (18.2 m) long piles, and involved thousands of lagging boards, two excavators, rock drilling rings for blasting and a large supply of dynamite. The four-level underground parking deck required seven months of excavation and more than 20,000 truckloads of dirt.

“We averaged 125 trucks per day over the life of the excavation, reaching almost 300 in one day,” said Allnutt. “The amount of dirt excavated in one day was usually limited to how quickly trucks could navigate the traffic coming in and leaving the Emory campus.”

Teams spent more than four months of blasting rock out of the bottom of the hole. The work took place each day at 6 p.m. on a coordinated schedule with both the hospital and the clinics.

More than 200,000 cu. yds. (152,910 cu m) of dirt/rock was removed from the excavation.

Teams have used a variety of heavy equipment on the expansion project, including excavators, lifts, lulls, dump trucks, concrete pumps and scissor lifts. Main materials being used on the project include concrete, steel, sheet metal, copper, sheet vinyl and gypsum based products.

The expansion also called for temporary walls and bridges in the Clinic A/B Lobby. The new bridges and connector system basically sit within the same footprint of the existing bridges.

“These took a great amount of engineering to create a temporary structure that performs and looks aesthetically pleasing for the patients and visitors using them,” said Allnutt. “The temporary bridges have allowed us to eliminate a few of the disruptive phases and combine them. The temporary bridges are comprised of structural scaffolding systems disguised on the interior to look like normal construction.”

“A number of interior walls were built in the clinic lobby and are now serving as the exterior walls temporarily, while the old structure is torn down. As always, having a plan B and a plan C are important. Making sure we keep the patient experience in mind, there were a few 'on the fly' and last-minute tweaks made by the team.”

The existing site originally housed the central energy plant that served the Clinic B building.

“Early work relocated many of those services to other buildings on campus, and that building was torn down. We rerouted all the chiller and electrical services to Clinic B. Some of those service mounted to the side of a parking deck.”

Weather has been an issue at times, but has not caused any significant setbacks, to date.

“While we had a very rainy season during the excavation of the parking deck hole, we were able to make up days working weekends,” said Allnutt. “Keeping up with project changes is the most time-consuming part of the project. Getting these changes communicated to the 500 workers in the field takes time, and making sure they have the latest and greatest drawings is important. We want to minimize re-work.”

With the concrete structure topped out, workers are finishing a portion of the steel penthouse structure. The installation of steel for the bridge that crosses over Clifton Road is progressing as scheduled, and is expected to be completed by spring 2017.

SmithGroup JJR led the design for the new wing, concourse connector, southeast corner expansion and the site work. According to David King, lead design architect, SmithGroup JJR, “The new wing and concourse at Emory University Hospital catalyze Emory's broader efforts to enhance and fully integrate this world-class health care campus. By uniting the existing clinical facilities and supporting service structures into a single-linked facility, Emory can continue to provide the highest levels of patient care and clinical efficiency.

“The mass of the new building was carefully subdivided to create a comfortable campus scale for the largest structure at Emory. Facades of multiple patterned marbles and carefully proportioned windows directly link the new building to the great older buildings of the historic main campus. With an architecture that is both new and old, this large new structure will become an admired contributor to the consistency and quality of the campus.

According to King, Emory faced several different, but interrelated, challenges in the design and construction of the new wing and concourse.

“Two challenges stand out — the project represents an enormous investment of Emory resources during a period in which health care providers are operating in an environment of rapid change, and the design and construction team needed to plan for continuity of excellent patient care and safety for the entire Emory team throughout multiple phases of construction.”

To manage the first challenge, the team planned and designed a building which is capable of accommodating a number of different programmatic choices and will be able to change and adapt over time to the needs of Emory and the health care industry.

One feature King is particularly excited about is the concourse connector, which will provide Emory with a new main street linking all the health care facilities.

“You will be able to walk safely and comfortable from one end of the health campus to the other, accessing the clinics, new wing and the existing hospital directly from the Lowergate parking garage.

“The new main drop-off at Clifton Road and Lowergate Drive will provide a correctly scaled, workable, efficient and welcoming counterpoint to the existing drop-off area across Clifton Road.”

King said the architecture of the new wing is derived from a desire to complement and enhance the existing Emory campus, and the need to provide a flexible, sophisticated health care facility.

The main facades of the new facilities are composed of marble, zinc, stucco and glass. While the marble emulates the colors, patterns and scale of the historic quadrangle facades, the construction methods underling the new work utilize cutting edge 'rain screen' technology. High performance glass helps with comfort and energy efficiency throughout, with large windows providing generous daylight into the private acute care rooms and a three-level 'window wall' providing light and transparency into the lower three-story concourse lobbies. Zinc provides the majority of the cladding at the building top. The entire assemblage will provide Emory with a consistent, durable and high quality building envelope that will complement the existing campus, according to King.

The building will meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver certification. Design efforts focused on operational efficiencies in energy and water usage.

“The new hospital expansion will not only add space for our patients, but we will create more than 500 new jobs for nursing staff, radiology and surgical technicians and many other hospital staff,” said Bryce Gartland, MD, CEO of Emory University Hospital. “We want to attract the best and brightest employees and physicians to our facility to work in a market-leading, growing and innovative environment.”