The new hospital building, the Tower, at Rush University Medical Center may only have opened in January 2012, but its status as a signature building on the Chicago skyline has already been cemented. With the distinctive “butterfly” shape of the patient tower, white-paneled façade, and multiple rooftop gardens, the new Rush is the latest—and largest—piece of a campus transformation that has been in the works for several years.
Home to a new state-of-the-art emergency center, a three-story interventional platform that places surgical, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures in one location (one of only three in the country to do so), and of course those signature patient care floors, the 14-floor, LEED Gold-certified Tower successfully reinvents the Rush campus for the future of healthcare and beyond. The new building cost $683 million, including capitalized interest and operating costs.
HEALTHCARE DESIGN Senior Editor Todd Hutlock spoke with Rush’s VP of Campus Transformation Mick Zdeblick, as well as Design Principal Ralph Johnson, FAIA, LEED AP, and Senior Project Designer John Moorhead, LEED AP BD+C, of Perkins+Will’s Chicago office about this iconic project.
Mick Zdeblick: In 2004, Rush came up with a 10-year master plan to transform the campus with Tsoi/Kobus & Associates. The plan outlined the overall zones of the campus and how we wanted to use the entire campus to achieve our mission of academics, research, and clinical activity. That quickly turned into a facility transformation plan that originated shortly thereafter, as we established the phasing and the capital strategy around the changes.
We went through a programming activity with Kurt Salmon Associates to help us understand overall what we were trying to build—how many ORs, how many patient rooms, and the like. As we finished the program, we had brought the Perkins+Will team on, around mid-2006. Within a few months, they produced a sizing and massing model that wound up staying fairly true all these years later; the “butterfly” design was certainly in place at that point.
Ralph Johnson, FAIA, LEED AP: This project came to the Perkins+Will office in mid-2006, and I started working on it in January 2007, right up through opening day. The client’s goals were to build a home for 21st-century medicine, provide flexibility to remain on the cutting-edge of technology for the present and for the future, and to be the medical center of choice in the Chicago area; the image of the building needed to fit all of those goals through the quality of the architecture and the environment. There is a very ambitious master plan in place for the Rush campus, as well, including many elements beyond just this building.
Zdeblick: The project has four phases. Phase one was a new Central Energy Plant, parking, a Supply Chain/Loading Dock, and the Orthopedic Ambulatory Building. The Tower is phase two, which just opened to patients in January 2012. Phases three and four are renovations to the Atrium and Kellogg buildings and the demolition of the Super Block, respectively.
Johnson: One of the challenges we met via the design was to connect the existing campus elements to the new ones, as well as accommodating future buildings. For example, there is an existing parking structure with an existing bridge, so we connected that to the new building as one of the entrances into the fourth floor; there are also ground-level entrances, of course.
There are also connecting bridges to the existing atrium building, including public and staff connections. The reason for the separation between the new building and the old building is because we couldn’t build over a certain portion of the site. It wound up being much more cost effective to separate the two buildings with a gap. That gap separates the existing and the new diagnostic areas of the hospital, so we turned it into a positive by making it into the new lobby and courtyard space.