McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. of Newport Beach recently topped off the structural steel on CHOC Children’s new patient care tower. Currently on schedule for construction completion in December 2012, the $563-million expansion is located on the south side of the existing CHOC Children’s hospital site in Orange.

McCarthy Tops Off CHOC Hospital Tower
McCarthy Tops Off CHOC Hospital Tower

Over the last six months, construction workers used a 196-ft-tall Liebherr tower crane with a reach of 276 ft to install 5,805 pieces of structural steel creating the frame for the new tower. The project team celebrated the placement of the last structural steel beam with a barbecue lunch for the project’s construction workers. During the luncheon, project team members signed the I-beam, which was adorned with an American flag and an evergreen tree before construction workers from Schuff Steel lifted it 160 ft and attached it to the top of the structure. The tradition of attaching a tree and flag to the final structural beam has been practiced by construction workers for over 1000 years.  The tree represents growth, life and good luck for the construction workers and the building’s future occupants. The flag is displayed as a patriotic symbol that signifies the united effort by the project team to achieve a common goal.

Serving as the general contractor for the project, McCarthy’s contract entails construction of a new 425,524-sq-ft patient tower with one basement level and seven upper levels as well as a penthouse chiller room and helistop. McCarthy will also conduct a 50,000-sq-ft renovation of the existing facility and supporting central plant components in the basement of the existing CHOC North Tower. Prior to construction, an office building and two-level parking structure were removed to make way for the new tower.

Jacobs of Cypress is the project’s construction manager; Thomsen Engineering of Industry is the civil engineer; TMAD Taylor & Gaines of Pasadena is the structural and MEP engineer. FKP Architects of Houston is the design architect and WBSA (Wood, Burghard & Swain Architects) of Irvine is the construction administration architect.

“The project team is performing advanced building techniques to aid in the detailing and construction of the new tower,” says Max Burcham, McCarthy project director. “Our team is using computer graphics/BIM 3-D modeling to refine coordination and thereby reduce conflicts between systems during installation. We are also creating various mockups to mitigate any waterproofing issues as well as to work through the details of how multiple components interface.”

The design is highlighted by a multi-colored glass skin, accented with colorful metal panels and a vertical beacon.  The exterior façade will transform at night, providing a playful change in appearance. All floors have shell space allocated for future department expansion.

In response to the community and regional environment, the building will incorporate environmental health principles and sustainable building guidelines as recognized by the Green Guide for Healthcare, U.S. Green Building Council and state of California energy mandates. During construction, McCarthy will minimize unrecyclable construction waste, maintain proper indoor air quality, filter storm water/runoff and ensure that the subcontractors install the specified “green” materials. Sun/shadow studies and site lighting studies were utilized to provide an eco-efficient design. Some of the building’s sustainable design features include: recyclable materials; low-emitting insulating exterior glass panels; light colored skin materials; green roofing; insulation isolation of skin materials; ozone protection/refrigerant selection; abundant use and optimization of natural light; increasing green space with healing gardens; low-emitting interior materials such as floor, wall and ceiling finishes; energy management technology; water efficient landscaping; and irrigation management.