The centrepiece of a multi-phase redevelopment project at B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital is set to open in the fall of 2017. The new Teck Acute Care Centre (TACC), situated in the heart of the 46-acre Oak Street campus, will provide much-needed modern space for the specialized care of seriously ill children and complex obstetrical cases.
Construction of the TACC is part of Phase II of the $680 million redevelopment project and will offer health providers access to more integrated and state-of-the-art technology and equipment to support the delivery of family-centred care.
“We are a 24/7 active acute care hospital – the only one in the province for children and women, serving the population across B.C. as well as the Yukon,” says Eleanor Lee, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) executive director and chief project officer. “Our primary goal for the centre is to provide a healing environment for our family-centred care. It’s about involving the family in the care plan and ensuring that the family has an active role in the healing journey of the patient.”
That goal was central to the design of the centre, which emphasizes single occupant patient rooms, access to natural light and views of nature to create a holistic healing environment. Even before the project went through the procurement process, a long indicative design planning phase was undertaken to ensure staff and patient needs were met.
“We went through an Integrated Facility Design process for nine months where we actually rented a warehouse and built out full scale models of different layouts and rooms – that informed our functional programming,” says Lee, noting more than 1,000 people were involved.
The project is being delivered as a public-private-partnership (P3). The Affinity Partnerships consortium was selected by the PHSA to design, build, finance and maintain the centre for 30 years. Construction was led by CWH Design-Build GP, a partnership of Ledcor and Balfour Beatty Construction.
The facility is eight storeys above grade with one level of underground parking. It provides expanded and enhanced clinical space, 231 single-patient rooms, 87 outpatient beds and new clinical education and research spaces. The centre houses a number of departments including medical/surgical inpatient units, emergency, medical imaging and procedural suites, hematology/oncology and pediatric intensive care. It also includes a high-risk birthing centre and a new neonatal intensive care unit.
Construction began in May 2014 with the demolition of three buildings to make way for the acute care centre. Substantial completion was achieved in July 2017 with the official opening slated for October 29. More than 800 workers were on site to deliver the 640,000-square-foot building. Crews poured 32,600 cubic metres of concrete and installed 4,600 tonnes of rebar for the structure. The exterior features a combination of cementitious shingles, glass curtain wall and colourful glass fins.
“This is more than a construction project for us,” says Peter Hrditschka, president of Ledcor. “Applying our services to build a facility that will help improve the lives of children and women in British Columbia is a special honour.”
Key construction milestones include the completion and enclosure of the structure as well as the turnover date in July.
One of the biggest challenges was the constrained site, according to Lee, explaining the centre is surrounded on three sides by buildings, which remained fully operational during the construction period.
“Access to the site, noise, vibration, dust, and infection control were all issues,” says Lee, noting planning, monitoring and good communication were critical to minimizing disruption to staff and vulnerable young patients. “We were very careful to ensure contractors stayed within allowable limits, especially for noise and vibrations.”
ZGF Architects, in joint venture with HDR | CEI, led the design for the new facility. Lean and evidence-based design strategies were used to create flexible, efficient and family-centred spaces that support the delivery of modern healthcare practices.
“The metrics and organization strategies that the health authority put in place really help drive and organize the thinking behind our competitive design that was selected,” says Allyn Stellmacher, a partner with ZGF. “It was a very elaborate programme but well organized by the client and structured in a way that allowed us to drive a unique and appropriate solution for them.”
The goal was to have a highly efficient design while providing the best compassionate and caring environment, according to Troy Ransdell, vice president, healthcare HDR | CEI.
“The facility is delivering this next level of service to this vulnerable population and providing them with the type of amenities and care that they need – accommodating current and future demands,” he says. “Optimizing flow and travel distances for the staff was a key priority. A great deal of effort was put into the mapping of the building clinical efficiencies and flow.”
For example, the public entry and elevator core are located along the main circulation concourse to separate flow. The design separates public, patient and staff flows with few crossovers.
A key consideration for the interior was a sense of “playfulness” to engage children of all ages. “This is a children’s hospital and so it was really important to have spaces and amenities for the children such as playrooms, video game rooms and playful colours and murals throughout to create a positive environment,” he says.
Wayfinding is critical in a complex building such as a hospital. Inspired by B.C.’s natural beauty, each floor has its own colours and themes from mountains and forests to sea creatures and other animals reflecting the different regions of the province. Artwork (murals, sculptures) in public areas also provides landmarks for patients and families to easily find their way around the hospital.
Extensive research shows that artwork has a positive impact to help patients recover faster and reduce anxiety and stress for visitors, patients and staff, notes Lee.
Sustainability was another key design driver. Targeting LEED Gold, the centre incorporates energy reduction strategies that will result in long-term operational cost savings. Other features include green roofs, drought-resistant native planting, rain gardens, low-flow plumbing fixtures and high performance lighting strategy such as dimmable lights and light sensors. Wood is used throughout public areas from the large canopy at the main entrance through to the lobby.
The facility is located within a residential neighbhourhood, which also influenced the overall design. “The massing of the building needed to be sensitive and relevant to the neighbourhood context,” says Ransdell.
The biggest challenge was the scale of the project and fast track schedule, according to Bill Locking, senior vice president at HDR | CEI. “Crews were working 12 hour days for the last six months to meet the schedule,” he says.
Successfully delivering the TACC required collaboration and innovation across the consortium, notes Stellmacher. This was his firm’s first P3 hospital and first project in Vancouver.
“Facilities like this are key institutions within any community and especially within a major city like Vancouver. It was an opportunity to make a powerful difference to the users,” he says.
Phase 3 is slated to begin in November which will see the relocation of Sunny Hill Healthy Centre for Children to the hospital’s main Oak Street campus. Vacated space in the existing B.C. Children’s Hospital will be renovated and repurposed to accommodate the centre, consolidating care in one location.
“I think the acute care centre sets the bar for a children’s hospital,” sums up Lee. “We have put careful thought and effort in designing the spaces with holistic healing in mind – to support families in every way we can during an extremely stressful and anxious time.”
Cheryl Mah is managing editor of Construction Business.