This Job is Personal – New Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis

Cutting
edge projects have challenges, but what made the construction of the new
Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis most unusual was that it was
personal.

“The
delivery of this project is different from other projects,” said Michael Usher,
project superintendent for S.M. Wilson & Co., the construction manager.
“Patients have come out to the job site. The Shriners wanted us to know who we
are building for. It was quite a learning process for us and created quite a
different attitude with all the workers.”

Michael
Hanner, project manager for S.M. Wilson & Co., said that even on health
care projects, constructors rarely interact with the people the facility is
really for. While building the Shriners Hospital, however, “we’re able to meet
patients and patient ambassadors. It was really eye-opening and touching, and
it really brings an extra special level of pride and care to the construction.”

The
personal touch ran both ways.

“The
strangest thing about this job, and it’s a good thing, is the Shriners care,”
said John Eyermann, senior project manager, PayneCrest Electric and
Communications. “The way a lot of places treat construction workers is like
second class citizens. The Shriners treated us like they cared. They cared
about every electrician, every pipefitter, every carpenter out there, and cared
about what was going into the building. It was one of those rare jobs that felt
good to be on.”

That
personal connection made a difference when it came to tackling the challenges
of building the new Shriners Hospital, and challenges were there aplenty.

Radical new model

The
new hospital at 4400 Clayton Avenue was designed for a mode of health care
radically different from the old, inpatient model traditionally practiced by
Shriners hospitals. The new model is an outpatient model supported by all the
resources of a full-service hospital.

The
challenge for designers and builders was to fit all the power and services of a
traditional orthopedic hospital into an itty-bitty space. Designed by Christner,
Inc., the new hospital features 18 outpatient clinic examination rooms, three
surgical suites, and four fitting rooms for orthotics/prosthetics; space for
physical and occupational therapy, child life, radiology, respiratory therapy,
pain management, social services and volunteers; enhanced space for metabolic
bone disease and molecular research, and dedicated space for collaborative
research with Washington University; and, because some surgical treatments will
still be complicated enough to require hospital stays, 12 inpatient beds and
nine rooms for family quarters. All of it fits within a distinctive, but
diminutive 90,000-square-foot facility.

“A
lot of the areas you see in bigger hospitals are in this building, from records
storage to exam rooms, therapy, radiology, operating rooms, family corridors,
to research,” Hanner said. It is a full replacement hospital, just in a small
package.

Eyermann
explained what that meant for electricians. “Every electrical system at
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is at Shriners. They are just not the massively sized
systems of a huge hospital,” he said. On the level of a room, however, “every
room is wired the same as it would be in a 200-patient-room hospital,” he said.
That means electrical, voice, data, nurse call systems, access control,
security, television, fire alarms, and wireless access with Category 6 cable.
The latter is a standardized cable for gigabit ethernet.

“Wireless,”
he pointed out, just means the device isn’t tethered to a wire. Instead,
antennas in the rooms and hallways are connected to wires running through the
ceilings and walls.

The
large variety of wiring used by different systems are in every room, he added,
“from the kitchen to each operating room,” meaning every room had “a massive
amount of wiring.”

The
designs of bigger facilities often take into account the challenge of fitting
in all the systems by making more space available above the ceiling, “but the
above the ceiling space was a real challenge in this project,” Eyermann said.
“It was more challenging to coordinate ductwork, process piping, and plumbing
piping with our own low voltage and power needs,” he said. “We used BIM
(building information modeling) to do it.”

A
harsh winter and a tight urban site made it difficult to get big trucks in or
to stage material. PayneCrest responded to the challenge by setting up a
workshop on the second floor specifically to fabricate assemblies on site as
they were needed. Pre-fabricating assemblies on site cut down on transfer
issues. Each assembly “just went out the door to where it would be installed,”
Eyermann said. “We utilized a lot of just-in-time methods.”

Challenging new
design

Compounding
the challenge of fitting the power of a large hospital into a small package was
the shape of the package. “It is not just a square box with four walls and a
roof,” Usher said.

“The
design of the exterior is tear shaped with curved walls,” Hanner explained.
“Where the wall meets curtain wall, the angle of the wall and the radius of the
wall all have to be correct so that everything ties together,” he said. The
southeast corner in particular is irregular. “The curtain wall cuts off and
flares off at an angle where it meets precast metal panel. That was a
challenge,” he said.

The
metal panels act as a rain screen, Usher said. “They weren’t installed in a
square design. They were installed in a diamond pattern.” They used BIM to
design the framing so that everything held tolerances of less than one-eighth
of an inch. “There was no room for error,” Usher said. “Sight lines at all
points have to flow with pinpoint accuracy.”

Heitmann
& Associates, Inc., provided quality assurance on the building envelope and
roof as the building enclosure consultant. Glenn Heitmann, president and chief
executive officer, said their role was to help assure “that the envelope
materials and systems, at a minimum, met the project requirements for esthetics
and performance,” and “provide a check and balance to make sure the systems and
their representatives are integrated and well coordinated.”

No
one else on the project has the technical expertise to look at the enclosure as
a whole and catch things that often get overlooked and cause problems, he said.
Heitmann’s participation in the project ranged from helping other team members
with problem solving to assisting in setting the sequence of construction
activities, identifying constructability issues, coordinating systems and
trades to inspecting installations on site and conducting water and pull tests
on the envelope.

Typically,
no single contractor is responsible for the entire building envelope, but this
job was different. IWR Building Systems took responsibility for almost the
entire exterior enclosure. “The complex building skin of this project required
a single source to successfully integrate the several exterior systems,” said
Heitmann & Associates’ George Crow.

As
a requirement for doing the work, IWR Building Systems became the first
exterior contractor in St. Louis to be certified by the Air Barrier Association
of America. “We were responsible for all the air and weather barriers and the
ACM metal panels. We subbed the glass to Missouri Valley Glass,” said Todd
Staley, project director for IWR.

“This
project is a major stepping stone for us. I’m excited to see how it will affect
the future of our business,” said Keith Myers, general manager, IWR. “Our
approach to the market now is to go after the total building envelope,” Staley
added.

The
exterior of the new Shriners Hospital consists of glass curtain wall and 3,600
rotated ACM metal panels. A drainage cavity separates the metal panel rain
screen from the weather barrier installed on the building’s exterior walls.

“The
geometric details of the project result in a more complex exterior than any
other building in St. Louis,” Myers said. What was unusual was the bilinear
radius, Staley said. “We had exact modules that had to fall on certain building
lines with the curtain wall, the corners, and the coping. We laser scanned for
imperfections, which we don’t usually do, and it allowed for a more rapid
installation,” he said.

Crow
said that IWR’s precision workmanship produced “an exquisite appearance” and “a
building exterior that will successfully manager water infiltration.”

Unfortunately, the project fell into a controversy
around the city’s diversity goals that has temporarily created a spot of
tarnish on the Shriners’ reputation. The Shriners reportedly were unaware that
the project was covered by the diversity goals that apply to the Cortex
redevelopment area in which it sits. The Cortex area is covered by city
diversity and inclusion requirements as part of its tax increment financing
program. After learning that the new Shriners Hospital was covered by the
goals, S.M. Wilson & Co. made a good faith effort to reach them, said
Usher.

 

Project Team

Owner: Shriners International

Architect: Christner, Inc.

Building Enclosure Consultant: Heitman & Associates

Construction Manager: S.M. Wilson & Co.

Major Subcontractors: Baxter Farms

Ben Hur Construction

BRK Electric

C&R Mechanical

Castle Contracting

CI Select

DeLuca Plumbing

The Hager Companies

IWR Building Systems

Kienlen Construction

Mechanical Solutions

Missouri Valley Glass

O’Neill
Painting II

PayneCrest Electric

Ravensberg,
Inc.

Rhodey Construction

Vee-Jay Cement Contracting

Wies
Drywall & Construction Co.