When finished, the $1.2 billion University Medical Center will be an integral part of the BioDistrict New Orleans, which seeks to be a bioscience hub built around research conducted at Louisiana State, Tulane and Xavier universities. But with its extensive use of computerized building information modeling and prefabrication of facility components, construction of the medical center itself is serving as a learning laboratory.
“Everyone on our team would like to work this way on the next project,” says Eric Hanson, principal architect with NBBJ who is working on the medical center as a joint venture with Blitch Knevel Architects. The high-tech approach to UMC's construction is shaving time and cost from the project.
Plans for the 38-acre site include a 551,000-square-foot, 424-bed hospital with an adjoining 747,000-square-foot diagnostic and treatment center; a 258,000-square-foot ambulatory-care building; and a 540,000-square-foot, 1,346-space parking garage. The project—managed by Skanska MAPP, a joint venture between Skanska USA Building and MAPP Construction—is expected to be finished in December 2014. Just to the west, the Veterans Affairs Department is building a $995 million medical center set to open in 2016.
Before construction could begin on UMC, 283,000 cubic yards of Mississippi River sand were brought in to raise the elevation of the site to 22 feet above sea level and above the flood levels seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The new facility will be a replacement for nearby Charity Hospital, damaged beyond repair by Katrina. Charity's sister facility, University Hospital, was renovated and reopened with a new name, Interim LSU Public Hospital.