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CHICAGO-The University of Chicago Medical Center will break ground next year on its $700 million, 1.2 million-sf new Hospital Pavilion in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The building is being designed with the staff’s technological needs in mind and planning space that will be easily adaptable to future advancements, says Mike Lynch, principal with RTKL Healthcare Technologies Group, which is doing the technology planning for the new facility.

“The epicenter of the technology circulates around the OR,” Lynch says. “Through the integration on this project, it will allow the anesthesiologist in their workroom to see the status of a room to see if the patient has been in, so they can better manage their time. Rather than paper outside the doors, LCD monitors will be outside rooms notifying the staff of the status of the room. It’s all going to be digital and allows for better patient safety and staff utilization, and turnaround of staff. The new facility will allow for the new technology to grow into the future.”

Expected to open in mid-2012, the 10-story building on 57th Street from Drexel to Cottage Grove Avenues will focus its services on cancer, gastrointestinal disease, neuroscience, advanced surgery, and high-technology medical imaging. Building designers Rafael Viñoly Architects are creating the adaptable space by implementing a grid system structure to the building. Each 100,000-sf floorplate is constituted of a series of 102 modular cubes, which can be reconfigured based on future space needs without altering the building frame.

“The building is going to be more intelligent and have the infrastructure that can support many more technologies that you can’t have in an existing building today,” says Peter O’Connor of RTKL, who is the principal-in-charge of the project’s special systems design. “The physical layout of the building has been designed with these advances in technology in mind. The technology and the layout of the building’s physical space go hand-in-hand.” O’Connor and Lynch say as technology changes, the physical space needs for the procedures involved change as well. For example, they say, the less invasive the surgery and the smaller the incision, the bigger the room needed to make room for technology to assist in the procedure.

O’Connor says older buildings can prove challenging to keeping up with ever-evolving technologies. “With a lot of major medical centers’ facilities, you get to a point with an existing building where you can’t push it any further,” O’Connor says. “The structure and the technology in it cannot rise to the level where the University of Chicago wants to deliver care at the forefront of medicine. They realize that their existing buildings could keep them from their objective.”

The facility will replace existing general operating rooms and adult specialty care beds, and will be the centerpoint of the university’s Medical Center campus. The facility will link with both the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, opened in 2005, and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, an outpatient care facility. The building will be adjacent to the 430,000-sf Gordon Center for Integrative Science, which opened in 2005, and the 330,000-sf, 12-story Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, to open in 2009.

“This building allows the University of Chicago to deploy state-of-the-art technology day one, but easily adapt and employ the latest technologies in five years or 10 years,” O’Connor says. “They need a building that can move as fast as they want to.”

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