Green Hospital Has High Hopes
Dell Children's Center Takes the Health
Care Lead in LEED
A new $200 million children's hospital rethinks
hospital design and crowns the site of Austin's Mueller Airport
redevelopment with a place of healing that may become the
first health-care facility in the U.S. to achieve a platinum
Metal panels and limestone
sheathe the exterior of the inpatient room wings. The
curved shape will enable views of the outdoor healing
garden. (Photo courtesy White Construction.)
An innovative 470,000-sq.-ft. hospital for children is rising
where airliners once took off and landed on the edge of Austin's
The design of the $200 million Dell Children's Medical Center
of Central Texas, built by White Construction Co. of Austin
for Seton Healthcare Network, incorporates healing elements
into the building and aims for certification as the first
platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design health-care
facility in the nation. LEED is national standard for developing
sustainable buildings overseen by the U. S. Green Building
Council. The hospital is being funded in part by a charity
drive that was spurred by a $25 million grant from the Michael
and Susan Dell Foundation and an additional $50 million in
donations. Seton is paying the remaining $125 million.
The cast-in-place concrete structure is the commercial anchor
tenant in the redevelopment of the 750-acre site that formerly
was the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. White broke ground
under a construction management contract in October. The project
is on an aggressive 27-month schedule aiming for a February
2007 completion. The project is 50 percent complete.
Healthy Distractions The 195-bed hospital's overall scheme breaks
up the massing of its size to achieve a number of benefits. "It's a highly
articulated, multilevel building with a large floor plate," said Tom Howard,
senior project manager for White. "Some areas have two levels, some three
and some four floors."
The goal in spreading the structure across its
32-acre site is to make it less imposing to the young patients it will serve.
"We could have stacked this hospital vertically and had a 12- or 15-
story building on this site," said Tom Snearey, principal in charge for Karlsberger
Architecture, an Ohio-based firm that specializes in pediatric health-care facilities.
"That would have been an overwhelming prospect for children and their families.
Our goal here was to break it down, compartmentalize each department with good
adjacency and circulation flow and create an appropriate scale. Even though adults
work in it, it's a children's building.
A rendering shows the hospitals hub-and-spoke
design and a 145-ft. tower, a way-finding element that pays tribute to the hospitals
history. Image courtesy Karlsberger Architecture. Inc.
was one task that the steering committee gave us. They said 'We want this to be
accommodating to children but also accommodating to the staff.' One way we make
it accommodating to children is with positive distractions. When entering the
front door, you really want to make it a journey of discovery. There's a distraction
around every corner."
A hub-and-spoke pattern allows for a high degree
of natural light throughout the hospital. "There's research that suggests
that natural light plays a healing role," Snearey said. "Our initial
goal was not to have a room farther than 32 ft. away from an exterior wall. That
held true for every department except for surgery."
Gaining the LEED
The natural light will help the building earn LEED points. The hub-and-spoke design
allows for 250,000 sq. ft. of future expansion that won't disrupt hospital operations
As a brownfield development, the hospital will earn
further LEED points. White had to demolish part of the runway that ran through
the site. "We removed 14 in. of asphalt and 20 in. of base under it,"
Howard said. "We took up 35,000 tons of asphalt and recycled that asphalt
as one of the courses in our base for the parking." Reuse of the asphalt
and runway fill helps up the project's LEED score for recycled materials.
drilled and poured 477 piers across a 30-ft. slope within the footprint. "In
some areas we had to go about 40 to 50 ft. to get to a bearing strata. In some
areas we only had to go 5 ft."
The pouring of 41,000 cu. yds. of high-volume
fly-ash concrete on the foundation and walls went quickly and added to the project's
LEED points. "We got a high production on our concrete pours with more than
30,000 sq. ft. in place a week," Howard said.
The exterior is clad
in four different materials - steel siding, stucco, Leuters limestone and Texas
red sandstone. "The stone continues on the interior," Howard >>
said. The roof is primarily TPO single-membrane with standing-seam metal in a
Crews work on the final touches of the structural concrete
shell of the Dell Children's Medical Center and begin adding exterior finishes.
(Photo courtesy White Construction.)
courtyards provide the structure with what its architects call "lungs"
for their open-air properties. One of them is adjacent to the lobby and boasts
a multilevel waterfall and amphitheater. An outside healing garden with a pond
and walkways will be visible from many of the rooms in the patient wings. The
interior will include a sensory gym, a therapy pool and a two-story chapel based
on the Chapel of Notre Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp, France, designed by the late
famed architect Le Corbusier.
The facility will earn its LEED points in
a number of additional categories. Its sustainable site tally includes credit
for urban redevelopment, a rain and ground-water collection system for irrigation
and the use of a white TPO roof that reflects sunlight rather than absorbing radiant
energy. Environmental air quality points are achieved by using paints and adhesives
on the interior with low or no volatile organic content, carbon dioxide monitoring
and sealing the ends of the ductwork during construction.
and fixtures as well as native plants in the landscaping will earn water-efficiency
points. The hospital's energy and atmosphere ratings are provided by a high-efficiency
HVAC system and an adjacent 4.6 megawatt power plant with a gas-fired turbine
generator that will provide steam and chilled water. White prepared the plant
site by pouring its slab and constructing masonry supports and a screen to surround
The hospital's final LEED components include the use of or renewable
content in materials and interior finishes and an aggressive construction-waste-management
program. "About 70 to 75 percent of all waste is being recycled, and we have
the potential of getting higher," said Alan Harbert, senior project manager
"We started early in the design phase with a LEED charrette
with the design team and owner and various departments to establish some goals
and design parameters," Harbert said. "We had regular monthly meetings
of more than 20 design professionals throughout the year of the design process
and meet quarterly to review progress and refine what we are doing."
by Design The building's design also has to conform to the master plan for the
airport redevelopment. "We are working with a design review committee for
the entire 750 acres here," said Alan Bell, network construction manager
for Seton. "We've had to go through an approval process and make presentations
to a group of architects. Anytime that architects make presentations to other
architects, you're lucky to get consensus."
The structure's design
has helped keep the project on schedule. "The good thing about a building
like this that's big and flat is that you can work on a lot of areas at the same
time," Howard said. "And if you get held up in one area, especially
the exterior, you go work in other areas."
Still, the complexity of
the project has its challenges. "There's a lot of work to coordinate on a
fast track," Howard said. "Even on a normal office building of this
size, that kind of timeline would be difficult. It's a complex building with a
lot of different systems: chilled water, heating, steam, medical gas, lots of
air handling, a sophisticated security system and cabling for communications and
a data center."
One holdup has been bringing in drywall. "We've
been hit with some delivery problems due to the recent hurricanes," Howard
said. "Where it was originally an 8- to 12- week delivery it is now more
than 36 weeks."
A landmark to the project will be a 145-ft. steel
tower at the entrance. "We wanted it to have some sort of representational
and historical significance that references the Catholic Daughters of Charity,
which owns Seton," Snearey said. "A tensile fabric structure at its
top will represent a nun's coronet, and we're also using that same icon on some
of the canopy features."
It will serve as a way-finder for the hospital
and the development around it. "As you're driving in off of IH-35 or anywhere
from the surrounding 700 or so acres, you're going to see that," Snearey
said. "Since we're the first building there, we worked closely with the developer
to align the streets so it's the terminus point of one of the main boulevards."
final results defy the usual patterns for hospital architecture. "You're
not going to drive by and say, 'Ah, there's a hospital,'" Snearey added.
"You're going to say there's an interesting building. And it just so happens
to be a hospital."
||Seton Healthcare Network, Austin|
|General Contractor: ||White
Construction Co., Austin|
Architect: ||Karlsberger Architecture Inc., Columbus, Ohio|
|Structural Engineer: ||Datum
Engineers Inc., Austin|
Engineer: ||Bury+Partners Inc., Austin |