Despite a number of high-risk activities involved in construction of the 1.6 million-sq-ft hospital tower, the Hensel Phelps team was able to successfully achieve completion two days early.

Photo: Richard Muniz

With more than five million patient visits annually and one of the highest densities of clinical facilities of any location, the Texas Medical Center in Houston is the largest medical district in the world. It contains 42 medicine-related institutions, 13 hospitals and two medical schools.

The project began with the implosion of Methodist’s Diagnostic Clinical Center to make way for the 26-story tower. The facility centralizes the majority of outpatient medical programs for the 1,000-bed teaching and research hospital and includes parking for 1,300 cars. It houses radiology, radiation therapy, outpatient surgery, medical oncology and cardiac diagnostic services and is designed for future expansion.

Construction features include all cast-in-place concrete with precast and curtainwall skin. A four-lane drive through the building at street level integrates the TMC with nearby Rice University.

The tower’s tight location challenged the project team. The project was built between two of the busiest streets in Houston. Staging on site was not possible. Additionally, the client needed to maximize the value of the real estate, requiring the use of every available portion of the site. Located on a half-block site surrounded by fully functioning buildings, the hospital was built to the property lines on the east, west and north and within two inches of Methodist’s existing hospital. The south end of the property was occupied by a fully operational hospital and a medical office building.

The tower was a major component of the client’s strategic plan to transform their institution from a teaching hospital to an academic medical center. The program was subject to change and the stacking of the building’s functions changed significantly during construction. To allow for future flexibility, the client decided to allow space for three additional floors to be added to the building during construction.

Key Players

Submitted by: Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Owner: The Methodist Hospital System
Program manager: Broaddus & Associates, Austin
General contractor/construction manager: Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Austin
Architect: WHR Architects, Houston
Civil engineer: Walter P Moore, Houston
Structural engineer: Haynes Whaley Associates, Houston
MEP engineer: Smith Seckman Reid, Houston