ARCADIA/NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — McCarthy Building Companies Inc. recently completed construction of a 154,486-square-foot patient tower at Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia. The North Tower is the latest addition to the 122-acre Methodist Hospital campus, which originally opened in 1957 and has undergone building additions and renovations over the years.
The $140-million project included construction of the Hollfelder Emergency Care Center on the first floor; a 20-bed ICU and pharmacy on the second floor; 40 medical/surgical beds each on the third, fourth and fifth floors; support services on the basement level and a new entry structure to include a covered drop-off area at the building’s main entrance.
McCarthy also constructed a 90-foot-long underground tunnel at the basement level to connect the existing Hoefflin Building to the new North Tower. Because of its size and location, the 8-foot-wide by 8-foot-high tunnel posed an interesting challenge to the project team.
“We needed to construct 60 feet of the passageway below the foundations and floor slab of the existing building, where extensive underpinning was required to support the existing structure prior to tunneling activities,” said Andy Liu, McCarthy’s senior project manager.
Liu said construction of the tunnel was complicated because the work was performed immediately beneath the existing ER, which remained operational during construction. “Extra precaution had to be taken to ensure no disruption to the ER, and also to maintain safe conditions for the workers below,” said Liu. The tunnel work took about three months to complete from start to finish.
The tunnel is an important piece of the project, but it is above ground where visitors will get a first impression of the new Methodist Hospital tower. The hospital exterior transforms the campus’ appearance by presenting a fresh face to the north. The exterior façade consists of Alucobond aluminum panels and a plastered finish around punched aluminum windows.
Inside, the tower drastically increases the hospital’s capabilities, both in terms of technological ability and size—the number of emergency department beds will increase approximately 65 percent, and the intensive care unit will grow by one third.
To help create a serene environment, NTD Architecture of San Diego designed the structure to bring nature indoors with open-air atriums, natural lighting and green spaces.
Besides the tunnel, another interesting project hurdle was space. The project sits on a lot that is a little more than 2 acres, with its north end against an existing parking structure and south end connecting to an existing two-level ER and patient admitting area. Liu said access to the site was limited to one area on the north end.
Other construction highlights include a 4-foot-thick monolithic mat foundation that encapsulates the structural steel moment frame supported by pad foundations, which are situated below the mat foundation.
Along with building this facility, Methodist Hospital has updated its systems with the latest advancements in healthcare technologies to expedite patient check-in and admission, as well as electronic tracking of a patient’s status, location, progress and vital signs.
Construction of the patient tower ensures the hospital’s compliance with Senate Bill 1953, which requires seismic upgrades for all acute-care facilities, before the 2013 deadline. The $300-million facility was funded using tax-exempted FHA Insured Mortgage Revenue Bonds along with transformational gifts, primarily one given by Tom and Bea Hollfelder for the Hollfelder Emergency Care Center.