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TORRANCE, CA-Construction crews have topped out the five-level West Campus Tower under construction at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, marking what the hospital describes as a “the critical next step in the eight-year campus expansion and development plan that began in 2000.”

The 95,000-sf office tower and a 626-car parking structure are both projects of St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. Inc.’s Newport Beach office, which completed construction on the parking structure in October. The West Campus Tower and the parking structure are the first phases in a series of construction projects at the 24-acre, 387-bed medical center, according to Craig Leach, COO for the nonprofit center at 3330 Lomita Blvd.

The West Campus Tower is part of $200 million in renovations and expansions in an eight-year master plan for the medical center, which was founded by Torrance city namesake Jared Torrance in 1925. Officials said the master plan’s projects are aimed at relieving a shortage of critical-care beds, providing a new birthing center to accommodate more than 4,000 births annually, creating new cardiac and physical rehabilitation centers, adding warehouse and storage space, increasing surgical capacity and complying with earthquake safety upgrades required by 2008 under California law.

The tower project under construction by McCarthy entails core and shell construction and an interconnecting 65-foot, semi-enclosed bridge linking the second floor of the new tower to the second level of the existing west wing. The tower will house medical staffing, medical records and administration offices as well as education and conference space, a cafeteria and several outpatient departments including a rehabilitation gymnasium for patients.

The core and shell work for the office tower are scheduled for completion in January 2004. Tenant improvement work will be completed in March 2004.

Designed by Hamilton Klow Associates of Torrance, the new tower incorporates a structural steel frame with a green glass exterior. According to McCarthy project manager Patrick Peterson, building on the site “is like building in Downtown Los Angeles” because of the emergency vehicles, traffic and people around at all times. Thus, the project required extensive planning to ensure that construction would not interfere with emergency vehicles and the hospital operations during construction.

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