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  • Christia Gibbons

“Good” Hospital Renovations at Banner-University Medical Center

A new Emergency Department’s opening June 27 launches a new era at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix.

The hospital envisioned nearly a 100 years ago by a Methodist woman from Nebraska recovering from tuberculosis, became Good Samaritan Hospital in 1923, and opened with a 12-story tower designed by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg in 1978. In 2015, the hospital merged with the University of Arizona Health Network and took on its new name.

Since last year, almost 600 construction-related people are on site any given day, executing a plan that not only includes the new ED but a new patient tower, expanded parking and a new lobby fronting on McDowell Road by 2020.

Project executives Steve Eiss, on the Banner side, and Gretchen Kinsella for DPR Construction are overseeing the $418-million project that includes 705,000 square feet of new building to the center’s campus and 50,000 square feet in renovations. HKS Architects rounds out the team.

“The biggest challenge, without a doubt,” Eiss says, “was the utility relocation.”

Kinsella points out that the answer to that puzzle exemplifies what works best about the mega project – collaboration. “An idea chucked out on the table,” Kinsella said about what happened when the teams working together questioned how to best relocate all the utilities.

The answer? A bridge.

Instead of facing the potential cost impact and project delays of running utilities underground under Willetta Street to link to the hospital, “now we had to build over it,” Eiss says. “So we had to figure out a way to rerun everything through a series of above-ground bridges.”

Kinsella says keeping the project on track means “continual real-time updates” on costs and schedules. “We have it phased in a way we can change decisions and adjust our approach with creative solutions.”

In 2014 Eiss came on at the beginning of planning and design. Last June, the Brill Building (an empty medical offices building) was demolished to make way for a 1,100-spot parking garage, he says, adding that construction on the new ED was finished the week of April 10.

Kinsella says that is a prime example of the “zero defects” construction DPR strives for, which allows a client to take over a space without having to worry about construction workers still finishing up odds and ends.

The new ED department has 60, all private, rooms and a new Level One trauma area. A 40-bed observation unit on the first floor will open by the end of the year. An existing physician parking area gave way to the new ED and subsequent tower.

The 17-floor patient tower is set to open October 2018. The hospital is adding 256 new private beds and converting double-occupancy rooms in the existing tower to single rooms for a total bed count of 768. The project includes the remodel of a portion of the existing tower and demolition of the six-story West Tower, which is not the main tower.

“For people like me,” Eiss says, “the best part of the job is there is a tangible work product; seeing a building come out of the ground. It’s always the best part for me. … And just to see that amount of people get themselves focused into one goal is pretty amazing.”

For Kinsella, who is DPR’s youngest project executive in Phoenix at age 37 and new mother to Sloan, who was born Dec. 31, her everyday philosophy “is to just triage my world to see where I can be most effective – home life, personal health, project team; I don’t need to sit in meetings to be effective.”

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