U. of C. OKs hospital pavilion plan

By Bruce Japsen

The University of Chicago Medical Center, preparing to embark on a $700 million expansion, has settled on a final design for a new hospital pavilion that will use a modular design executives say allows for flexibility should future renovations be needed.

The 10-story, 1.2 million-square-foot hospital pavilion will span a two-block area on East 57th Street, just north of the Comer Children’s Hospital and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the city’s South Side. 

The final design and construction plan received final approval last week from the University of Chicago board of trustees. It will be officially unveiled Monday, and construction will begin next year.

Hospital executives say the design is flexible because it uses modular cubes that are each 31.5 feet across and 18 feet high. The more than 100 “repeating modules” on each floor can be reconfigured for a wide range of uses, allowing the facility to adapt to new technology and the ever-changing delivery of medical care.

“Our goal was to build a facility that is as innovative as the medicine inside, a building so extraordinarily flexible that redeployment and re-equipping of space could be accomplished economically with minimal disruption to ongoing operations,” said Dr. James Madara, chief executive of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

“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.”

Noted New York architect Rafael Viñoly, working with Cannon Design of Grand Island, N.Y., developed the design. Viñoly designed the university’s Charles M. Harper Center for the Graduate School of Business, which opened four years ago.

The medical center’s bed count will not change significantly. Once the new pavilion opens in 2012, the main adult hospital building, known as Bernard Mitchell, will convert to all private rooms.

Included in the new pavilion’s features are 80 private patient rooms as well as 24 intensive care beds on each of the top three floors. The sixth floor will house 24 operating rooms.

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