Collaboration among Akron Children’s design teams for its new medical tower has shaved weeks from the construction schedule and saved millions of dollars, while adding features that will increase patient satisfaction and improve outcomes.
“To deliver the best value for the hospital, seven innovation design teams were created to study as many design solutions as possible,” said Nick Loughrin, production manager for Welty-Boldt. “Working individually and collaboratively, during the entire design phase, the innovation teams have captured ideas that have reduced the overall project budget by more than $30 million, while remaining true to the hospital’s design criteria.”
Each innovation team includes a cross pollination of ‘thinkers’ – designers, trade partners and members of the construction management team.
- The Site Innovation Team is responsible for the design of the underground utilities, landscaping and road work.
- The Structural Innovation Team is studying the best approaches to constructing the foundation and super-structure.
- The Enclosure Innovation Team is concerned with the aesthetics of the exterior of the building, like the exterior skin and windows, and air and vapor barriers.
- The Medical Equipment and Technology Innovation Team includes IT, building security, nurse call systems and OR equipment.
- The Interiors Innovation Team is working on the interior design and finishes, including wall coverings, flooring and furnishings.
- The Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection Innovation Team is designing the HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and electrical systems.
- The Production Innovation Team is focused on finding the most productive methods to construct the building.
Using a decision-making process called “Choosing by Advantage,” the teams look at their options, identify the advantages of each, including cost considerations, and reach a consensus on whether a particular set of advantages are worth the cost.
Each team’s ideas are then preserved in a log. So far, the process has resulted in a number of improvements in the design and construction process:
- Initially, the mechanical rooms were going to be located in the middle of the building. The teams knew that the location needed to be convenient for the maintenance staff while providing the most flexibility for possible future renovation, and that the noise needed to be as far from patients as possible. The consensus — the basement provided the best solution to the problem.
- There will be 69 bathrooms in the NICU. “Instead of building the bathrooms on site, it was faster and easier to prefabricate bathroom pods in a manufacturing facility. The pods will be flown in and set in place, saving nearly three weeks in the construction schedule and approximately $50,000,” said Loughrin.
- The teams studied lowering the ceiling height from 9 feet to 8 feet 8 inches. This reduced the height of the building, which means less brick, windows and metal. There will be less wall space to finish, and the duct sizes can be reduced. “Lowering the ceiling, which does not impact the design intent, results in a savings of approximately $190,000,” Loughrin said.