Hard Hat Tour Of The Largest Healthcare Construction Project In The U.S.

August 13, 2013
Inside the construction site of the new Parkland Hospital in Dallas, scheduled for completion in fall 2014. Photo: Robert Treat BARA is the construction manager at risk building the new Parkland Hospital. The BARA joint venture team consists of Balfour Beatty Construction, Austin Commercial, H.J. Russell & Co., and Azteca Enterprises. The team of HDR + Corgan is designing the hospital and Cri+igen, formerly known as CH2M Hill, is providing project controls. The space shown here is the on-site BARA office for Parkland. The team built 10 mock-up rooms, which went through four or five phases each, all the way through to finishes. Shown here is the patient room mockup. Photo: Robert Treat Mockup of the LDRP room. Photo: Robert Treat At the foot of the bed in the LDRP rooms, a TV/monitor is covered with write-on glass and includes a webcam so doctors can see the patient and consult remotely. Mockup of the NICU room. Photo: Robert Treat The NICU rooms include a sink specially designed for baby washing. This sink is in the mockup room: In the final build-out of the rooms, the faucet was moved to position it farther away from the baby's head. Photo: Robert Treat Adam Panter of HDR explains the reasoning behind the door design in the mockup for the ED exam rooms. Photo: Robert Treat The ED exam room mockup. Photo: Robert Treat All patient bathrooms were constructed off-site and are being brought in and installed. Photo: Robert Treat Walter Jones, Parkland's senior vice president of facilities planning and development, leads the tour. The new Parkland looms large on the Dallas landscape. Photo: Robert Treat Exterior view of the new Parkland. Photo: Robert Treat The exterior of the new Parkland will feature enormous graphics of trees through the different seasons. Each tree image is composed of the etched names of more than 40,000 donors ($10 and up) who contributed to the new facility. Photo: Robert Treat Detail of the etched donor names. Photo: Robert Treat The cafeteria space. Photo: Robert Treat An actual patient room in the new space, one of 865 same-handed, single-patient rooms. Photo: Robert Treat View from the third floor. Photo: Robert Treat
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I was in Dallas last week for the Healthcare Design Academy, where a team of highly invested players working on the replacement facility for Parkland Memorial Hospital gave an in-depth presentation on the project’s progress. Their mood was upbeat, and with good reason:  Parkland had been on the brink of losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding—which would have been genuinely devastating for the health system and Dallas County at large—but had just received word, the day before, that the hospital had passed its final inspections and was safe.

So if the workers on-site at the billion-dollar project last Friday seemed to have an extra spring in their step, well, you couldn’t blame them. The replacement hospital is due to complete construction in a year. It’s the largest healthcare construction project in the country, and—as it’s been funded largely by the public—the work has faced considerable scrutiny from the local media.

The team behind the project, however, has been quite forthcoming in its descriptions of the various stages of operational, architectural, and design planning as they’ve evolved over the past five years. Their session at HCD Academy felt very honest—sharing the good and the bad—and, more important, useful to anyone in our field.

The sheer enormity of this project makes it tremendously valuable from a research perspective, so it’s great that the entire design team seems to have a “no question is off-limits” mentality. Lots of attendees took them up on that, during both the sessions and the site tour on Friday morning.

It’s one thing to read the statistics: 64 acres; 2.7 million square feet; 100,000-square-foot emergency department; 865 patient beds. I’ve seen the renderings, watched the videos, and heard more than one presentation from the Parkland team. And still, walking onto the site in my hard hat and “visitor”-emblazoned safety vest, I couldn’t help uttering “whoa,” practically in unison with the 50-plus designers, architects, and other industry pros on the tour with me.

Led by Walter Jones, Parkland's senior vice president of facilities planning and development (and a Healthcare Design editorial advisory board member), the tour was thorough, enlightening, and impressive. I think I’ll let the photos do the talking—just click on the image above to scroll through the gallery. Special thanks to tour-mate Robert Treat of Lillibridge Healthcare Services Inc. for supplementing my iPhone shots with some of his own. 

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Excellent Tour

On behalf of the HDR+Corgan design team, we are honored to be part of this extraordinary new medical center and work side-by-side with the visionary leadership at Parkland. Many thanks to the HCD Academy for hosting the hard hat tour at New Parkland. The entire team enjoyed sharing our project and exchanging ideas with the attendees!