Phase 1 of Craig Hospital’s $90-million expansion and renovation in Englewood, Colo., has gone vertical. The existing 135,034-sq-ft building will expand to 219,934 sq ft.  Due to changing codes since the original building was erected in 1969-70, all utilities had to be re-designed to meet current code standards.

Sixteen months after the start of programming and design, Clarkson Street in Englewood is permanently closed, the sitework, foundation and updated utilities are complete and the structural-steel frame is now being erected. The hospital is projected to be complete late in 2016.

RTA Architects partnered with SmithGroupJJR and GE Johnson Construction to resolve an extremely complex problem: How to build a new facility on top of and inside an operating brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospital—without losing beds or disrupting patients?

The answer was to pull in experts from all disciplines and break the enormous project into 22 pieces. “The planning process took a full year,” said Randy Thorne of RTA Architects. “That began with a week of full immersion at Craig by the architectural team. We knew the only way we could begin the design process would be to watch the interaction between Craig staff and patients. You have to experience it. There's a ‘Craig Way.’

“Full immersion, and bringing on SmithGroupJJR with its expertise specific to designing for patients with brain and spinal cord injury and their families, allowed us to get right into the most important part of the project, which is this complicated task of building a new hospital around the people who operate here daily, and not interrupt them.”

The project team developed sophisticated construction phasing so patient care, treatment and outcomes are not compromised and disruptions to patients, families and staff are minimized as much as possible.

Mike Fordyce, Craig president and CEO, said, “The deep collaboration going on here is remarkable. RTA Architects, SmithGroupJJR, and GE Johnson Construction are responsive to our patient needs, to the point of appointing one of GE Johnson’s superintendents to be the staff/patient liaison. 

"She is on call 24/7 for three years to ensure no activity will impact patient comfort. Shutting down drilling for three hours to accommodate one patient’s need to nap and be relocated to a quieter room is one example of their level of commitment to the Craig philosophy of patient-centered care.”

The hospital is funding $40 million of the project through cash reserves and the sale of bonds and the Craig Hospital Foundation is raising $50 million through its “Redefining Return On Investment” capital campaign. The hospital has $17.5 million yet to raise.