The University of Virginia (UVA) Health System in Charlottesville, Va., has broken ground on a major hospital expansion and renovation that will triple the capacity of the emergency department (ED) and add a six-story patient tower, four operating rooms, and 12 interventional procedure rooms. Central to the 520,000-square-foot project, designed by global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, was the university’s goal to integrate design, patient care, and resource conservation.

The expansion initially was driven by the need to replace and expand the ED, which dated back to the late 1980s. Planning was already underway on a triangular site adjacent and east of the current hospital and the opportunity arose to build the new tower with airy, private patient rooms on the site. Each floor of the new addition will be connected directly to the existing hospital.

A new “second door” entry through the emergency department into the lobby of the new facility was also created. The new ED will feature separate areas for pediatrics, adults, trauma, and behavioral health, and is designed to speed patients to surgery, ICU, and private rooms.

In preparing for construction, contractors and designers faced an immediate challenge: relocating three MRI stations while ensuring no downtime. Each MRI station was moved one at a time to renovated space within the hospital, while at least three MRIs were kept running at all times.

The expansion site presented another challenge: a one-story change in grade elevation. This will be accommodated by tucking the ambulance garage and loading dock at street level and locating patient drop-off and pick-up one floor above

The building features a curving glass exterior to maximize the site and view opportunities. The expansion allows natural light to flow through the hospital into patient rooms and the corridors of the ED and interventional floor. Each floor will include staff lounges, nurse rest stations, and family visiting space in each patient room.

The expansion will feature a green roof with solar panels to power the boilers. To meet the university’s goal for a 25 percent campus-wide potable water use reduction the design features a graywater recycling system, which collects and filters storm water and condensate from the air handling unit into a 50,000-gallon cistern. This water is pumped to the adjacent campus chiller plant, offsetting more potable water than is used by occupants in the hospital extension, making the project net zero for water use.

The project is expected to be completed in 2019.