From powering cities to empowering healthcare providers
More than a third of the respondents to this year’s Construction & Design Survey are working on building renovation and conversion projects.
Many of them involve transforming the empty husks of former grocery stores, warehouses and small—or even some big-box— retail outlets into medical office buildings, free-standing clinics, emergency centers and other healthcare venues.
“A lot of our clients in healthcare are moving away from building new,” said Sonny Hamizadeh, an architect and the national senior executive for healthcare commercial construction with Toledo, Ohio-based SSOE. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re still building new, but if it’s more economical (to renovate), a lot of people are going in that direction.”
Two whopper remodeling jobs— one in Providence, R.I., and the other in Toledo—are in a class by themselves.
In Providence, two Rhode Island nursing schools plan to move into the lower floors of the massive former Narragansett Electric/National Grid power plant in time for the fall semester.
Two years ago, the vacant shell—a hulking brick, concrete and steel structure on the Providence River— would have made a better setting for a post-apocalypse sci-fi movie. It
had operated as a power plant between 1912 and the early 1990s, but was then abandoned.
Also later this year, eight-hospital ProMedica Health System will consolidate its office space and move 1,000 workers from dozens of scattered sites to one main corporate headquarters in downtown Toledo.
The ProMedica project involves
remodeling a bank building and connecting it to a gutted and repurposed 19th century landmark steam plant along the Maumee River. The plant once provided heat to downtown businesses.
Both former industrial structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. Their renewals represent milestones in revitalization efforts underway in their respective cities.
The Providence overhaul is part of a $220 million urban redevelopment project in the city’s historic jewelry manufacturing district. It includes a planned 270-unit college residency complex and a 770-space parking garage, already completed.
“The interior spaces are really spectacular,” said Rick Kobus, senior principal with the Boston-area architectural firm Tsoi/Kobus Associates, which designed the retrofit for Bostonbased developer CV Properties.
Some of the building’s original steel roof trusses and even a still-functional overhead crane were kept to showcase its—and the neighborhood’s—industrial past. “Wherever we could preserve the original construction and expose it, we did,” Kobus said.
Brown University’s administrative offices will occupy roughly half the building’s 266,000 square feet of space, including two newly added upper floors. The lower floors will be occupied by the nursing schools at Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, both publicly funded.
The latter are calling their space the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center. “Both have nursing programs and they both have simulation centers on their campuses,” said Michael Walker-Jones, the education center’s acting executive director. “This is a state-of-the-art simulation center. When you get up to the classroom, this looks like a hospital with regular patient beds and an ICU. We even have an apartment built so we can train our nursing assistants in home care.”
SSOE is a subcontractor to Dallasbased HKS on the Toledo project, which required not only rehabilitation of the Daniel Burnham-designed steam plant, but also demolition of a pair of deteriorated, 220-foot brick smokestacks, replacing them with two thinner, shorter steel replicas that passed muster with state preservation officials.
The building had been vacant
since 1985, according to a description on the HKS website. The project includes a new parking garage and renovations to a promenade along the Maumee, a popular venue for strolling and summer events, Hamizadeh said.
Because of the steam plant’s historic status, “The envelope of the building is critical; it has to be saved,” Hamizadeh said. The interior could be gutted, however, ensuring the building’s “interior space has the comfort level” visitors and office workers require, Hamizadeh said.
Two nursing schools will be moving into a mammoth riverfront building in Providence, R.I., that operated as a power plant beginning in the early 1900s.