Bigger and Better

By Claire Swedberg | Apr 15, 2008




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With a &555 million addition to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the western Pennsylvania community has more than just its own major pediatric facility. The hospital, part of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (UPMC), already was rated as one of the top 10 pediatric hospitals in the United States. But this new facility offers something else—a community-centric design with physicians, nurses and families providing input before construction even began. Today with

Wellington Power Corp., Pittsburgh, providing electrical construction, the major addition is growing in the center of the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

The existing pediatric hospital had become overcrowded and outdated. The new addition will make the building fit current and future community needs.

Wellington installed all the distribution, primary and low-voltage electric for the facility. Although Wellington had undertaken hospital work before, this is one of the largest for the company and for the general contractor and architect.

“We do a lot of large projects, but this is one of the largest. This would be considered large by anyone’s standards,” said Tim Powers, senior vice president for Astorino, the architect and engineering firm.

The Clinical Services building is a 900,000-square-foot addition to the existing hospital. UPMC also is constructing a 300,000-square-foot research building, a 136,000-square-foot faculty office building, 78,000-square-foot administration building, three parking decks for 1,400 cars, and a 46,000-square-foot central plant. With the addition, the Clinical Services building stands nine stories, plus a 10th floor for utilities, and has an area of more than 1 million square feet. Of that, 750,000 square feet is new construction.

When complete, the new building will provide the community with 260 inpatient beds, including 78 critical care beds. The hospital will feature state-of-the-art clinical, outpatient and inpatient services. It also will include a 41-bed emergency room and trauma center and 13 operating suites, including six equipped with leading-edge minimally invasive equipment.

On the upper floors, construction crews are building a 20,000-square-foot family resource and activity center, which will include the Eat N’ Park Atrium, Howard Hanna Healing Garden and libraries.

The building is being constructed with flexibility for change. The site allows for an additional 400,000 square feet of healthcare facility in the future as well as room in the plant for new cooling towers, generators and chillers.

Barton Malow, a national contractor, in a joint venture with local contractor P.J. Dick Inc., served as the general contractor for the $174 million Clinical Services building, with P.J. Dick overseeing construction of the rest of the campus.

Architects initially established the scope of the construction about five years ago by examining the flow of people and the needs of patients and physicians.

Wellington arrived on the site in March 2006. The existing hospital had been gutted, and Wellington was tasked with installing a new distribution system. When workers arrived on-site, nothing electrically was there yet, just the gutted shell that would be about 30 percent of the finished hospital, recalled William Denne, Wellington vice president of operations.

Wellington is establishing two separate distribution areas, with 4,160-volt gear, and emergency feeds with 5-kV equipment in the basement and on the 10th floor. There also is a flywheel uninterruptible power supply on the roof. The building has four separate quads with their own closets, bus ducts and feeders.

In addition to 10th floor distribution, Wellington is adding several generators in the central plant, which will feed the emergency distribution system it is constructing.

Job site challenges

Since electrical and mechanical services will be powered from the 10th floor, getting the equipment lifted to the top of the building has been a challenge, said John Dobbins, director of field operations at Barton Malow. Workers are using an existing tower crane on the site as well as several mobile cranes, and the elevators whenever possible, to get heavy equipment onto the upper floors. Vertical transportation has involved two equipment hoists as well as the existing elevator, which Wellington maintained until the new elevators could be completed. With the new elevators, the construction crew has access to four ele-vators in addition to the exterior hoists.

The hosptial’s location poses some problems, as well. For design, engineering and construction, the primary challenge is the sheer size. This giant expansion is taking place within a residential area, surrounded by homes on all sides. It offers little construction staging area and has limited road access.

“Luckily, we have warehouses within one and a half miles of the site, so we do warehouse a lot of our equipment and truck it in daily,” Denne said.

All material has to be scheduled in daily from Wellington’s warehouses. “If you let the men run out of materials, the blame is on yourself,” he said.

Another challenge relates to connecting new construction with the renovation of an old building. Because the addition needs to connect seamlessly with the original building, the expansion is being constructed with low ceilings. Building the new addition in such a way that the floor and ceiling height match that of the old building, Denne said, requires new construction with lower than standard ceiling height. That makes for a coordination effort on the project to allow the HVAC, electric and other utilities sufficient room to share the narrow space.

“We had to fit everything in a limited area,” Denne said.

And coordination for that was a major challenge.

“Fortunately, the contractors have been working very well together,” Denne said. “It’s a real team concept. We have two or three meetings a week,” to keep the effort on course. All the same, he said, “It has taken hundreds of hours of coordination and I can’t tell you how many drawings.”

That coordination effort, he estimated, took six to eight months. “From early March, it took a considerable effort on the part of all the contractors,” Denne said. “The only thing that has been harder than normal is the size. It is just very, very big.”

Integrated systems

As with any new facility, the number and types of systems installed is growing, with more emphasis on tying them together through control systems.

Integrating electric services that run through the campus among numerous buildings is a major task, Branch said. Designers had to plan and specify work with a design/build component to develop a computer system in keeping with the technology, which continued to evolve throughout the five years of the project. UPMC made Johnson Controls the integrated systems prime contractor and Johnson Controls in turn subcontracted electrical installation to Wellington.

Within the Clinical Services building, a command center connects all low-voltage and security systems, while there is a satellite command center in the central plant that includes telecom/data, as well, but not security.

Technology is a big part of the process. For instance, the data and security system needed flexibility from the onset, since technology is changing even faster than construction can be completed.

“One of the challenges with a medical facility is that technology changes so rapidly,” said Pat Branch, Astorino engineer.

One example is the data network. The system initially was designed around Cisco but, ultimately, is being installed as an Alcatel network.

Plus, Astorino chose to combine all its low-voltage and data systems into a single network. In this way, the firm was able to reduce redundant wiring and simplify testing and verification. The hope is that this system will enable future additions to data systems.

Lighting comprises a large portion of the project. Lighting fixtures are going in one floor at a time and include upgrades to the fixtures in the existing section of the building. The atrium has parachute fixtures and fiber optic starfield ceiling lighting with controls. Each patient also has lighting control at the room door. A daylighting system incorporates blinds designed to open and close automatically based on available outside light.

“We did a lot of interesting things with lighting,” Powers said. “We’re very fortunate to have a sophisticated owner.

To accomplish LEED certification, the hospital uses a Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI), lamp life monitoring system and a lighting control system that includes daylight harvesting to minimize energy use and ensure that lamps in all fixtures are kept operating at their prime level.

Still under construction

The 230,000-square-foot John G. Rangos Research Center will be complete by fall of 2008, and the entire campus will be finished in 2009.

By the time construction is complete, Wellington will have installed 70,000 feet (13 miles) of distribution conduit, from 1½ to 4 inch. Electricians will have run 350,000 feet of 600-volt wire, 3,000 feet of distributed bus duct—both 480 volt and 250 volt—and 750,000 feet (142 miles) of MC branch cable.

Wellington has had about 80 men on the site and expects to complete the hospital on time. The hospital addition has a scheduled completion date of spring 2009.

With the electric and other services in place, “The quality is there. UPMC insists on the quality. They know what they want, and we deliver it,” Denne said.

Wellington electrician Brett S. Fort described the project as one that generated pride in all its participants.

“I’d say the professionalism and knowledge of all the trades was the outstanding feature,” he said. “You have no choice but to work closely with each other in a job of this magnitude.”

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at [email protected].




About The Author

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at [email protected].





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