Largest single health care investment in history of South Side approved by University of Chicago Board

Largest single health care investment in history of South Side approved by University of Chicago Board

Novel modular design promotes flexibility, expansion and connectivity

June 9, 2008

The University of Chicago's Board of Trustees gave final approval June 5 for the University of Chicago Medical Center's New Hospital Pavilion--a 21st-century technological and architectural tour de force, designed to accelerate medical progress and to leverage the close collaboration between the University's world-class clinicians and researchers for the benefit of patients. The Medical Center board approved the project on May 28.

The futuristic, $700 million, 10-story, 1.2 million-square-foot New Hospital Pavilion, designed by renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, provides a high-technology facility that combines the optimal setting for patient care and collaborative clinical research with the flexibility to adapt to and drive forward rapid changes sweeping through medicine.

The Pavilion will provide a new home for the University of Chicago Medical Center's most distinguished clinical programs, those that provide complex specialty care with a focus on cancer, gastrointestinal disease, neuroscience, advanced surgery and high-technology medical imaging.

"The New Hospital Pavilion is a substantial investment that represents our commitment to biomedicine and to the delivery of complex clinical health care informed by the research of our faculty," said Robert J. Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago.

"The New Hospital Pavilion is more than a building," said Medical Center CEO James L. Madara, MD. "It embodies our commitment to provide the finest possible care to those with the most challenging illnesses. It is also a model of flexibility, which will enable physicians to leverage advances in medical science for the benefit of our patients for decades to come."

Engineered to link the forefront of medicine with the University's agenda-setting science, and to provide the most innovative care for patients facing the most challenging illnesses, the New Hospital Pavilion will serve as the new "core" of the University of Chicago Medical Center campus. It will connect to both the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, which opened in 2005, and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, the Medical Center's outpatient care facility. It will be adjacent to two new, cutting-edge research facilities: the 430,000 square-foot Gordon Center for Integrative Science, which opened in 2005, and the 330,000 square-foot, 12-story Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, to open in 2009.

The New Hospital Pavilion will occupy the north end of two city blocks, extending 570 feet along the south side of 57th Street from Cottage Grove, over Maryland Avenue to Drexel Avenue. Each floor will provide over 100,000 square feet of space, more than 1.5 football fields--including the end zones.

The Pavilion contains 240 private inpatient and intensive care beds; 24 state-of-the-art operating rooms; 12 rooms for gastrointestinal and pulmonary procedures; seven interventional radiology suites; and advanced diagnostic tools including high-resolution high-speed MRI and CT scanners. Major construction will begin in 2009 and the building will open in 2012.

Design as innovative as the activity inside

Rafael Viñoly Architects of New York and London, working with health care facility specialists Cannon Design of Grand Island, NY, developed the design. Viñoly designed the University's award-winning Charles M. Harper Center for the Graduate School of Business, completed in 2004.

The building's innovative and efficient design will foster collaboration and interaction among clinicians while providing a haven for patients and families dealing with complex illness. It will be spacious, easy to navigate and filled with natural light.

"Most new hospitals are custom designed to fit present-day needs and practices," Madara said. "Our design looks forward to how medicine will be delivered 25 years from now and beyond."

The architects created that flexibility by basing the entire structure on an innovative grid system--a matrix of modular cubes, each one 31.5 feet across and 18 feet high. The repeating modules, 102 on each floor, can be reconfigured as needed to accommodate a wide range of purposes, from inpatient beds to radiology suites to operating rooms, without changing the basic frame of the building.

"Our goal was to build a facility that is as innovative as the medicine inside, a building so extraordinarily flexible that redeployment and reequipping of space could be accomplished economically with minimal disruption to ongoing operations," said Madara. "It will enable us to build and rebuild over the coming decades to define the forefront of medicine as it advances. At the same time, it will provide a place of comfort and privacy for patients and families, and of efficiency and precision for physicians, nurses and staff."

Besides fostering collaboration, driving technological change and creating an environment where patient care, research and education could be developed seamlessly, "there was a clear intention to create a facility," Viñoly said, "where architectural quality and operational efficiency are not in opposition."

Lifting the campus quad into the air

Playing off of the traditional courtyard layout of much of the University of Chicago, the design includes a Sky Lobby on the seventh floor, "effectively lifting the social, contemplative, outdoor space of the campus quad into the air," according to Viñoly. The Sky Lobby, an elevated public space that "breaks the building's mass into two components," will contain central reception, family waiting areas, a chapel, gift shop, dining areas and other public spaces. Its floor to ceiling glass walls will provide expansive views of the campus and Lake Michigan to the east, Washington Park to the west, and the downtown Chicago skyline to the north.

The top three floors will each contain 80 private patient rooms, including 24 intensive care beds. The sixth floor will house 24 operating rooms, plus preoperative and recovery areas. The fifth floor will be devoted to diagnostic imaging and procedure areas, including interventional radiology, GI procedures, pulmonary/bronchoscopy areas, cardiac electrophysiology, plus patient preparatory and recovery areas. The third and fourth floors will initially be left as shell space, providing expansion room for developing programs.

Retail space, including a café, at the building's ground level will enhance the streetscape, and be open to the public. Maryland Avenue will pass through the building at ground level, serving as a convenient drop-off point. A green roof tops the building.

The Medical Center makes participation by minority- and women-owned businesses a priority in all construction and renovation projects and has received multiple awards from the Chicago Union League, Chicago United, Black Contractors United and others for its success in these efforts--an approach that is continuing strongly with the New Hospital Pavilion project.

This $700 million project will be financed with $500 million from tax-exempt debt, $100 million from gifts, and $100 million from cash and investments.