University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

When an organization like the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center earns a reputation as one of the leading academic medical centers in the country, it is not in a position where it can rest on its laurels. Instead, it has to make sure it continues providing patients with care in state-of-the-art facilities.

And that is what the Dallas-located campus is doing with its latest project. Currently, general contractors Hunt Construction Group and Holder Construction Group LLC are building a new, 13-story hospital facility on the campus that will cover 1.3 million square feet and house 460 beds.

UTSW Director of Construction Services Guillermo Ramos says the campus has needed the $800 million facility for a long time.

“This new hospital will replace our existing St. Paul Hospital that was built in the 1950s,” he states.

According to UTSW, the new facility will function together with University Hospital-Zale Lipshy, which opened in 1989 and has reached its full capacity. “It will also serve as an important partner to UT Southwestern’s other major teaching hospitals in the Southwestern Medical District, including Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital,” the university says.

The finished structure will feature all-private patient rooms that can accommodate friends and family, an electronic health records system, robotics in the operating rooms, in-room video conferencing, 24 surgical suites and 10 interventional cardiology suites.  Additionally, to meet its mission as a teaching hospital, the project features special space provisions throughout the hospital that facilitate teaching as well as the academic and clinical environments.

Additionally, the new hospital will be located on a 32-acre site in the Southwestern Medical District.

This will situate the facility close to downtown Dallas and only five minutes from Dallas Love Field Airport. “[This] is an outstanding project,” Ramos says.

At Fast Pace

As the project team builds the new hospital, it is working under a fast-track schedule, Ramos says. To meet the project’s anticipated completion date of Oct. 30, 2014, UTSW is working closely with the contractors and the architect, RTKL, and is assisted in the project by ADAMS Management Services.

To stay on pace, the contractors started construction of the site work and building foundation in March 2011, even though the interior design documents were still being worked on by RTKL. Such overlap of construction and design activities provides for an expedited construction schedule while still allowing UTSW time for final adjustments to the design.

“RTKL will be finishing the architectural drawings this year,” Ramos says, adding that the use of building information modeling has been an important tool during the construction process. This has allowed all parties to discover challenges before they occur on site.

Additionally, the contractors and the designer have worked very closely together to make sure everything meets UTSW’s needs. For example, both collaborated on mock-ups of the building’s rooms to make sure they met the expectations of doctors and nurses. The mock-up rooms have been amended several times over in an effort to get the design right prior to construction of the project itself.

RTKL, Hunt and Holder also have strived to meet each others’ needs during the project. For example, the architect has had designs ready when the contractors needed them, while Hunt and Holder have been flexible on their deadlines for RTKL.

All three have been “doing a great job,” Ramos raves. “The architect has been very attentive to UT Southwestern and all their needs,” he says. For a fast-track process to work, the consultants also have to be on board. Jaster-Quintanilla Civil Engineers had to complete its documents first because the site work and underground utilities were the first sequence of construction required. The structure work began immediately, so structural engineers Walter P. Moore and Rogers Moore had to complete their drawings early in the process.

While the initial construction has begun, RTKL, associate architect Vidaud Associates and the MEP engineers, Smith Seckman Reid and Purdy-McGuire, have continued to complete the architectural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing documents.

Growing Out

With an annual enrollment of nearly 4,400 medical, graduate and allied health students, residents and postdoctoral fellows, UTSW says it strives to improve healthcare throughout the world. “UT Southwestern’s physicians provide patients with the highest quality of care throughout the medical center’s outpatient clinics and affiliated hospitals,” it says.

UTSW says its operations began nearly 70 years ago, when several local business leaders and physicians came together to form a small medical college in Dallas. “Founded on a pioneering spirit that makes the North Texas region so distinctive, today’s UT Southwestern is one of the top academic medical centers in the world – a premier educational, clinical and research institution with a cutting-edge approach to medicine,” it states.

According to UTSW, its faculty and residents care for almost 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee nearly 1.9 outpatient visits annually. Additionally, the hospital employs a staff of approximately 11,000 and has an operating budget of more than $1.42 billion.

UTSW has had a major economic impact on North Texas. “In fact, each dollar spent by UT Southwestern generates more than $2 additionally for the local economy,” it states. “The construction of the new University Hospital will create new jobs and generate even more business activity for the local and regional economies.”

UTSW also has earned awards for its work. Recently, in the U.S. News & World’s Report’s America’s Best Hospitals 2010 Guide, it ranked in six specialty care areas. Additionally, its medical center ranked in multiple specialties, including gynecology, kidney disorders, neurology and neurosurgery.

Dr. Bruce Beutler, director of UTSW’s Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, also shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the role of proteins in the body’s immune system.

While the UTSW currently has 1.8 million square feet in project space underway, the campus will grow further, Ramos says. By 2013 or 2014, the university will have another lab research facility in the works. “That will be 300,000 square feet,” he says.

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