Rehab by design

March 1, 2009
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St. Joseph's Hospital-Patient Tower, St. Paul, Minnesota

Project Summary
Completion Date: November 2008

Owner: HealthEast/St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Paul, MN Owner's Representative: Boldt Consulting Services, Milwaukee, WI

Executive Architect (Architect-of-Record): BWBR Architects, St. Paul, MN

Design Architect: Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK), Chicago

Civil Engineering and Landscape Design: Loucks Associates, Minneapolis, MN

Structural Engineering: Ericksen Roed & Associates, St. Paul, MN

Contracting: McGough Construction, St. Paul, MN

Mechanical Engineering (Design/Build): Harris Companies, St. Paul, MN

Electrical Engineering (Design/Build): Parsons Electric, Minneapolis, MNPhotography: Paúl Rivera, Archphoto

Total Building Area (sq. ft.): 181,000

Total Construction Cost (excluding land): $52,422,500

Total Construction Cost per Square Foot: $289



St. Joseph's Hospital was the first hospital in Minnesota and is the oldest institution in St. Paul. An independent Catholic hospital was slated to be closed about a decade ago, but with strong community support behind it, it instead became part of the HealthEast network. In the spirit of the ongoing effort to revitalize downtown St. Paul, block by block, HealthEast then decided to turn the hospital into its Centers of Excellence for both Cardiovascular and Neuroscience, as well as remain a community hospital for the people it had always supported in the heart of downtown St. Paul. The first stage of redevelopment was a new patient tower that spans 86 feet across a city street, captures views of the northern edge of downtown, and repositions future hospital expansion westward. The tower allows for a continuum of inpatient care where patients from critical care to medical/surgical status remain on one floor and perhaps one room for their length of stay. Each 45-bed floor is self-contained with its own associated therapy and rehab spaces to decrease patient movement. HEALTHCARE DESIGN Editor-in-Chief Todd Hutlock spoke with Principal-in-Charge and Senior Medical Planner Sheila F. Cahnman, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, and Design Principal Erik Andersen, AIA, LEED AP, of Design Architect Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK), as well as Phyllis Novitskie, executive lead of facility planning and management at St. Joseph's Hospital, about the project.

Background and goals

Phyllis Novitskie: Our overall objective was to begin to build a healing environment that would reflect the level and quality of care that we deliver. That said, getting more private rooms on the campus was one of our main goals. Our guiding principles revolved around patient and staff safety.

After consulting our end users, particularly physicians, we were encouraged to expand vertically rather than horizontally. We decided to remove our old loading dock and surface parking area and build there. We came up with a concept to span the road on the upper floors to connect with the existing hospital and capitalize on the spectacular sight lines to the capitol. This allowed us to keep some of the critical adjacencies and to access all of the new rooms via vertical lift rather than to build horizontally. The development of the patient tower also led to the development of an overall site plan for future expansion, where we will now build across the street and expand onto this new building.

Erik Andersen, AIA, LEED AP: This building fit in with the city's master plan to create a series of “pocket parks.” Our pocket park, visible on the northernmost end of the courtyard, defines a new front door for the hospital.

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