“We want to be aggressive in the idea that the best time we could open this facility is yesterday, but we also want to be realistic,” he says.
Christian says even when the initial sitework was done, complete details on what was to be built above ground were not yet solidified by the design-build team, led by Hensel Phelps. But the team was aggressively pushing to reach those milestones. “If we didn’t meet the terms of the IGA [intergovernmental agreement], the project would have gone nowhere,” he says.
Originally designed as a 250,000-sq-ft, six-story building with a basement, the facility’s $125-million price tag was deemed too expensive by the city of Phoenix, the University of Arizona and tenant Dignity Health. As a result, costs were cut to $100 million, with adjustments that included eliminating the sixth floor and the basement as well as not building out the fifth floor.
“Because of the economy, there was a need to resize the building and scale it back,” Christian says.
Alterations to the original design reduced the scope of the project by 26%, he adds. “You are not going to get that sort of reduction without eliminating stuff,” he says. “But the services had to be the same.”
Included in the reduction was a 4,000-sq-ft surgery center. Beyond that, the design team found ways to provide enough space for other services.
The fifth floor will be occupied at an unspecified date, likely by Dignity Health. Future construction supplies, such as interior studs, drywall and other heavy and not easily transported items have already been stored on the fifth floor.
Construction began on the substructure even before the team knew exactly what was going to be built above it. But determining where the imaging equipment—including MRI, CAT scans and other devices that require shielding and special electrical needs—was crucial, Christian says.
“It was not perfect. There was a time when construction got ahead of design, but the biggest issue we encountered was a modest relocation of a floor drain. That was not a huge deal,” he says.