Hospital tower frame done

A view from the top. Looking down onto the top of the St.Mary’s Hospital new helicopter hanger, the high point of the 12-story tower

The steel frame of St. Mary’s Hospital’s new tower is complete, and about 300 construction workers are starting to enclose the building just in time for the onslaught of winter.

The hospital’s Century Project, the most visible part of which is the 12-story tower, is on schedule and on budget, said Dan Prinster, vice president of business development for St. Mary’s.

The tower is expected to open early in 2010.

With the completion of the steel structure and a topping-out ceremony last week, workers have been installing low-maintenance metal panels on the upper floors and will next install temporary plastic windows that will allow them to heat the interior and continue working.

“You can see the brick work on the lower part,” Prinster said.

Inside, workers are climbing the tower floor by floor, he said.

“The building is actually completed from the ground up, and different trades are moving up the building at different levels,” he said.

Prototype rooms are being completed and members of the clinical staff are then brought in to review them, studying everything from the locations of electrical outlets to how medical gases are delivered, Prinster said.

The approach is intended to eliminate design flaws early in the construction process.

Once the prototypes pass muster, “We go through and replicate them throughout the floor,” he said.

Rooms are commissioned as they are completed, meaning that once the final check-off is done, heating and ventilation systems are working, phones installed and computer systems are in working order, furniture is placed inside and the doors secured.

That way, when the floor is ready, “You can move in very quickly,” he said.

Work also is proceeding on the east side of the hospital, with a new cafeteria and entrance area, Prinster said. The job includes completing the fifth floor of the existing building for education space.

The hospital’s Century Project is a $274 million expansion with 440,000 square feet of new space and the remodeling of 120,000 square feet of existing space.


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