In the warm, waning days of summer, mechanical crews are replenishing their ranks in a push to bring the $1-billion Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on line by late fall.

“We peaked with 80 workers or so, then got really skinny for awhile,” says Scott Tranter, group vice president with The Hill Group, the project's Franklin Park, Ill.-based mechanical contractor. “Today, we're back up to about 25.”

The task at hand is almost a project unto itself, one of several Hill has tackled as the 23-story structure has taken shape on the campus of Northwestern Medical Center, located in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast.

On the fifth floor, crews have begun building out the facility's imaging center, one of the last of the project's myriad spaces to come on line.

Specifications for the center are unique. To prevent RF signals from disrupting testing, spaces are lined by a contiguous layer of lead and copper shielding. Accordingly, piping and ductwork require special fittings to maintain the enclosure's integrity.

The center's equipment, which performs CT scans and MRIs, likewise requires specialized cooling. “The scanners generate a lot of heat due to associated computers and electronics,” says Tranter, “so we're installing a dedicated cooling system that calls for chilled water connections.”

Expectations are high for the 1.25-million-sq-ft facility. Systems are so advanced that hospital officials required that all project team members be proficient in building information modeling (BIM). Hill is a veteran of the technology, having mastered it several years ago.

The firm, whose revenue neared $200 million last year, also knows the lay of this particular land. Under the auspices of its building operations group, which deploys stationary engineers to commandeer some 32 million sq ft of space, Hill employees are scattered throughout the Northwestern campus.