The twelve story, 558,000 square foot Washington University/BJC Medical Center Campus Expansion represents perhaps the largest, most complex hospital construction project in recent St. Louis construction history. Designed and built through an Integrated Project Delivery methodology (IPD), Guarantee Electrical Company (Guarantee) joined the construction team to supply lighting and electrical systems for the fit-out of BJC’s new North Patient Tower and the connected Children’s Hospital expansion. The latter implementation encompassed another 222,000 square feet. These assignments essentially involved fitting-out the “business-end” of two free-standing hospitals, expanding and consolidating services encompassing some of the most demanding disciplines in medicine: obstetrics and neonatal care, pediatrics, and general surgery together with adult cancer care. The role of the electrical contractor in a large-scale hospital construction project is to provide the connectivity and power that supplies the “central nervous system” of the facility. For Guarantee, this involved bringing detailed pre-construction planning and 3-dimensional visualization via Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the project management process. Modeling assured accurate mapping in advance of all placement of conduit “pathways” supplying specialized power according to the clinical needs of users by department, and their specified equipment and deployed from department to department and floor-to-floor throughout the facility. Equally important is that BIM modeling potentially brings additional cost savings via collision detection and avoidance between trades as well as enhanced safety.
Successful hospital construction tends to be about the repeatability of precision. The means and methods of achieving this amidst the density of technologies take teamwork as well as offsite resources. For Guarantee the use of modeling and preconstruction planning was supplemented by extensive use of prefabrication conducted on its own campus and on that of its partner, Rock Hill Mechanical. Prefabrication of headwalls in patient rooms took place in Guarantee’s 30,000 square foot prefab production center on its St. Louis City campus. Here a team of prefab specialists assembled headwalls—often in managed collaboration with our mechanical and plumbing partners. Headwalls typically provide the channels through which the complete range of services is delivered with clinical precision to the patient’s bedside throughout.
A similar prefabrication process was applied to the construction of birthing rooms for conventional births, twins and neonatal care. These are scaled to clinical requirements, with extra attention to calibrating the rough-in to accommodate the diversity of the treatment spaces along with those more typically called for in standard patient rooms. In general, prefabrication serves to address the need to balance flexibility with quality in the form of exact, highly consistent placement of componentry A significant feature of the expansion involved substantial addition of surgical resources in the Barnes Jewish North Tower and encompassed construction of a total of fifteen operating theaters. Limited ceiling space required careful clash-prevention modeling to map the placement of conduit, boxes and circuits that were located strategically to assure placement flexibility in managing the disposition and powering of equipment placed in these high-tech spaces.
Extensive modeling, preconstruction planning and prefabrication took weeks off the schedule and saved thousands of labor hours. More importantly, these methods when applied to the project management process as a whole demonstrated the quality and power of teamwork between disciplines as they applied a new level of collaborative, multi-trade planning and communication to successfully completing a very large and complex construction assignment on schedule and on budget.