Work Progresses on $100M Medical School in Phoenix

Wed September 11, 2019 - West Edition #19
Cindy Riley – CEG Correspondent


The site selected for the new campus previously served as a parking lot. Demolition was required to remove the lot, as well as the light fixtures, minor landscaping and an old monument sign.
(Oakland Construction photo)
The site selected for the new campus previously served as a parking lot. Demolition was required to remove the lot, as well as the light fixtures, minor landscaping and an old monument sign. (Oakland Construction photo)
The site selected for the new campus previously served as a parking lot. Demolition was required to remove the lot, as well as the light fixtures, minor landscaping and an old monument sign.
(Oakland Construction photo)
Crews have been working on drilling cassion foundations. 
(Oakland Construction photo) The site has a limited footprint, which requires careful coordination of logistical activities such as removing dirt spoils, delivering materials and setting up equipment.
(Oakland Construction photo)
Forming and pouring concrete columns has been ongoing during this phase of the project.
(Oakland Construction photo) There will be estimated 1,800 cu. yd. of spoil exports from the foundation activities. Spoils are expected to remain a challenge on the project, as crews perform excavation activities. 
(Oakland Construction photo) The building is a concrete structure, with elements of structural steel.  The building exterior is glazing and metal wall panels.  
(RDG Planning & Design rendering)

In midtown Phoenix work continues on a $100 million medical school. Nebraska-based Creighton University is building the Health Sciences Campus at Park Central to meet the demand for physicians, nurses and other health professions within Phoenix and the entire state.

"The state is facing growing shortages in most health care professions, with one primary care doctor for every 1,500 people and a projected shortage of 50,000 nurses by 2030," said Randy Richardson M.D., associate dean, Phoenix Regional Campus. "The demand for these professionals and responsive, accessible health care is expected to increase substantially as a result of our growing population and diversity. This new health sciences building will not only bring more medical professionals to the area, but it also will help to keep them here."

According to Richardson, placing and retaining physicians in communities creates jobs, improves vital access to health services and grows the number of practicing faculty to mentor, precept and train more physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals. Approximately 75 percent of medical students who finish their post-graduate residency training in Arizona will remain in the state.

Construction of the seven-story facility began in mid-July 2019. Upon completion in 2021, the campus will occupy 180,000 sq. ft. of innovative, leading-edge learning, clinical simulation and community engagement space. Creighton University Health Sciences programs will include a four-year medical school, 12-month accelerated nursing program, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant programs.

"As the only Jesuit, Catholic medical school west of the Mississippi, Creighton University will share our mission and tradition throughout the Southwest, educating health practitioners who are expertly trained and compassionate to all individuals," said Richardson. "Our Jesuit, Catholic culture highly values both education and service to the community, humankind and to the underserved populations. Our deep commitment to excellence, care for the whole person — mind, body, and spirit, and service will ensure students receive a comprehensive, engaged understanding of the health system across various sociological environments, with an important focus on Arizona's inner-city and rural populations.

"These experiences will help foster skills and empathy in the service-minded health leaders whom we will graduate and who will practice for generations to come in these communities. With enrollment of nearly 900 students, Creighton University will offer a distinctive, life-changing approach to health professions education, recognizing the role of faith in healing and our deep commitment to serving others."

The project, funded through a combination of philanthropic investment from community partners, alumni, friends and institutional resources, is expected to transform Arizona.

"By educating future Arizona physicians, nurses and health professionals within the state, Creighton University will prepare and retain more health professionals to care for Arizona residents, while bolstering regional economic growth," said Richardson.

"Currently, Creighton's School of Medicine sends 84 medical students annually to St. Joseph's Hospital for clinical rotations and the College of Nursing has 96 students in a 12-month accelerated nursing program in partnership with St. Joseph's Hospital. Creighton's long presence in Arizona includes more than 2,000 alumni and 260 Creighton-trained physicians practicing in the state."

Working in a Small Footprint

The site selected for the new campus previously served as a parking lot. Demolition was required to remove the lot, as well as the light fixtures, minor landscaping and an old monument sign.

Carlos Gonzalez, project manager of general contractor Oakland Construction, said space is a concern.

"The greatest challenge we face on this project is accounting for the limited site footprint. We must carefully coordinate logistic activities, such as removing dirt spoils, delivering materials and setting up equipment, just to name a few."

Crews are currently working on drilling caisson foundations.

"These vary in depth, but may be up to 40 feet deep," said Gonzalez. "We also are forming and pouring concrete columns and preparing the tower crane foundation.

"The first activity before foundations was grading the lot to support the building footprint. We also are working behind the scenes to bring a tower crane to the site."

Gonzalez said weather has already been an issue.

"Hot summer days are a factor. We start as early as possible, to limit our heat exposure."

As for the most involved part of the work, "The concrete structure will require the most time. The first floor is a slab on grade and all upper floors are post-tensioned slabs on deck.

Main equipment used on this job will include mobile and tower cranes, forklifts, concrete pumps, drilling rigs and front-end loaders. The building is a concrete structure, with elements of structural steel. The building exterior is glazing and metal wall panels.

"We estimate approximately 1,800 cubic yards of spoil exports from the foundation activities," said Gonzalez. "Spoils will remain a challenge on the project, as we perform excavation activities. The industry has a high demand for dirt hauling trucks, so meticulous coordination is required to schedule the dirt hauling company on time."

Milestones on the project include completing the concrete structure by April 2020 and completing the building exterior by December of next year.

Gonzalez said when building a medical school, coordinating owner-provided furniture, fixtures and equipment can be difficult.

"The health campus may require special equipment, and it is our job to coordinate the items to ensure power and any additional requirements are in the right place."

Gonzalez said it's rewarding to work on a facility that will serve so many.

"We're looking forward to completing this project with Plaza Companies and Creighton." CEG