Big pro­ject in the Big Easy

Tech­nol­ogy helps speed timetable for new UMC

Modern Healthcare - - CONSTRUCTION - Andis Robeznieks

When fin­ished, the $1.2 bil­lion Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter will be an in­te­gral part of the BioDistrict New Or­leans, which seeks to be a bio­science hub built around re­search con­ducted at Louisiana State, Tu­lane and Xavier uni­ver­si­ties. But with its ex­ten­sive use of com­put­er­ized build­ing in­for­ma­tion mod­el­ing and pre­fab­ri­ca­tion of fa­cil­ity com­po­nents, con­struc­tion of the med­i­cal cen­ter it­self is serv­ing as a learn­ing lab­o­ra­tory.

“Ev­ery­one on our team would like to work this way on the next pro­ject,” says Eric Han­son, prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect with NBBJ who is work­ing on the med­i­cal cen­ter as a joint ven­ture with Bl­itch Kn­evel Ar­chi­tects. The high-tech ap­proach to UMC’s con­struc­tion is shav­ing time and cost from the pro­ject.

Plans for the 38-acre site in­clude a 551,000square-foot, 424-bed hos­pi­tal with an ad­join­ing 747,000-square-foot di­ag­nos­tic and treat­ment cen­ter; a 258,000-square-foot am­bu­la­tory-care build­ing; and a 540,000-square-foot, 1,346space park­ing garage. The pro­ject—man­aged by Skan­ska MAPP, a joint ven­ture be­tween Skan­ska USA Build­ing and MAPP Con­struc­tion—is ex­pected to be fin­ished in De­cem­ber 2014. Just to the west, the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Depart­ment is build­ing a $995 mil­lion med­i­cal cen­ter set to open in 2016.

Be­fore con­struc­tion could be­gin on UMC, 283,000 cu­bic yards of Mis­sis­sippi River sand were brought in to raise the el­e­va­tion of the site to 22 feet above sea level and above the flood lev­els seen in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in Au­gust 2005. The new fa­cil­ity will be a re­place­ment for nearby Char­ity Hos­pi­tal, dam­aged be­yond re­pair by Ka­t­rina. Char­ity’s sis­ter fa­cil­ity, Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, was ren­o­vated and re­opened with a new name, In­terim LSU Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal.

In July, its op­er­a­tion will be handed over to Louisiana Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter, a not-for­profit cor­po­ra­tion that also runs Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal and Touro In­fir­mary, both in New Or­leans. When UMC opens, ser­vices of­fered at In­terim will be moved to the new hos­pi­tal, which will also be man­aged by Louisiana Chil­dren’s.

LSU Health spokesman Marvin McGraw says that, un­der an agree­ment with the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, In­terim can­not stay in op­er­a­tion as a hos­pi­tal when UMC opens. No de­ci­sion has been made on how the build­ing will be re­pur­posed, McGraw says, adding that out­pa­tient clinic and of­fice uses have been dis­cussed. The new UMC is be­ing funded with $300 mil­lion from the state, and the bal­ance will be cov­ered by FEMA and “third-party fund­ing,” ac­cord­ing to a re­port to state of­fi­cials from Jacobs En­gi­neer­ing, the pro­ject’s pro­gram man­ager.

At­tempt­ing to avoid re­peat­ing prob­lems that oc­curred dur­ing and af­ter Ka­t­rina has been a driv­ing prin­ci­ple be­hind the pro­ject. “It’s been a ma­jor part of the de­sign,” says James Clem­mensen, se­nior pro­ject ex­ec­u­tive with Skan­ska USA. This in­cludes hav­ing enough wa­ter and power to sup­port seven days of “is­land op­er­a­tion” in case util­i­ties are cut off.

The Jacobs re­port notes how clear­ing the UMC site in­volved ac­quir­ing 244 parcels of land. Un­like the VA site, where the Pan Amer­i­can Life In­sur­ance Co. build­ing, dat­ing to the early 1950s, was ren­o­vated for ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fices, there were no his­tor­i­cal build­ings on the UMC site retro­fit­ted for per­ma­nent use.

There are, how­ever, three re­main­ing build­ings on the UMC prop­erty. One has been his­tor­i­cally pre­served: McDonogh School No. 11, a two-story, 1,500-ton, 16-class­room build­ing built in 1879. Ac­cord­ing to a state news re­lease, it’s “one of the top 10 heav­i­est struc­tures ever moved in the na­tion.” Only it hasn’t moved very far. The old school re­mains on­site where it has to be re­lo­cated pe­ri­od­i­cally to ac­com­mo­date dif­fer­ent phases in the hos­pi­tal’s con­struc­tion. “It was jacked up, and the plan was to move it down the street about a mile away,” Clem­mensen says. “That hasn’t hap­pened.”

An­other build­ing is a four-story clinic now hous­ing of­fice space used by Jacobs, Skan­ska MAPP and oth­ers. The third build­ing is an old auto deal­er­ship that has been turned into a fac­tory of sorts where the pre­fab­ri­ca­tion of build­ing com­po­nents is tak­ing place. Through the use of build­ing in­for­ma­tion mod­el­ing, or BIM, pre­cise lay­outs for plumb­ing pipes, elec­tri­cal con­duit, air ducts, sprin­kler sys­tems and med­i­cal gas units are cre­ated and space con­flicts be­tween them are avoided—al­low­ing max­i­mum use of tight ceil­ing space. More im­por­tantly, com­pli­cated pipe con­fig­u­ra­tions, known as “racks,” can be man­u­fac­tured in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment and fit­ted into place at the con­struc­tion site.

The me­chan­i­cal racks for the di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment build­ing are be­ing man­u­fac­tured at the fac­tory, as are pa­tient head­walls and pa­tient room “bath­room pods.” Me­chan­i­cal racks for ceil­ings in the in­pa­tient tower are be­ing as­sem­bled in a nearby lo­ca­tion.

The pro­ject’s orig­i­nal re­quest for pro­pos­als called for a 36-month timetable, and Clem­mensen es­ti­mates us­ing BIM and pre­fab­ri­ca­tion has shaved three to five months off of that sched­ule. “We’re now uti­liz­ing it in ev­ery pro­ject we pos­si­bly can,” he says.

A build­ing once part of an auto deal­er­ship serves as a “fac­tory” for pre­fab­ri­ca­tion of com­po­nents to be used in the new Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, left, set to open in late 2014.

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