The VA Palo Alto Health Care System is seeing a lot more than patients these days. With roughly 17 projects totaling nearly $1 billion under way or currently in planning, the hospital’s 92-acre campus in Palo Alto is booming like a gold rush town.

Image courtesy SmithGroupJJR
The $100-million, 174,000-sq-ft Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center is the largest project currently under construction at the Palo Alto VA campus.

“This is unique for us because there are so many major projects happening on an active hospital campus,” says Jason Nietupski, the center's facility planner.

Undertaken to correct aging and seismically deficient buildings, and to meet a growing population of military veteran patients, the platoon of projects range from a $6.5-million, 29-room guesthouse for visiting families; to a $250-million, 325,000-sq-ft Ambulatory Care Center with outpatient services, primary care and prosthetics that is scheduled to break ground in 2015.

The largest project currently under construction on campus is the new $100-million, 174,000-sq-ft Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center, which was designed by SmithGroupJJR of San Francisco and is being constructed by Walsh Construction of Chicago.

This three-story, state-of-the-art facility will consolidate outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation programs, including polytrauma, blind rehabilitation, physical medicine rehab, and physical & occupational therapy.

Nietupski calls the facility "amazing and unique" and says it is the only one in the VA system that combines blind rehabilitation and traumatic brain injury into one structure.

"It's like a custom-made suit for the advanced services that the VA provides to the vets," says Cheekeong Lin, principal at SmithGroupJJR, and project manager on the new rehab center.

He says this is a challenging project because there is no reference material or architectural precedence to study.