Steady as She Goes
There is a delicate operation underway at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento that requires steady hands and surgeon-like precision.
But instead of doctors and patients, this procedure involves the construction of a four-story, 125,000-sq-ft hospital tower smack dab in the middle of a busy campus with only one tiny access road.
“This is about as tight a site as I have ever been on,” says Tom Onnen, project manager with Pasadena-based HDR Inc., the project designer.
The Alex G. Spanos Heart Center tower is the main part of a $150-million modernization of Mercy General. The project also includes the demolition and relocation of an existing Catholic school, demolition of the existing 1950s East Wing building to make room for surface parking, creation of a healing garden for patients and visitors and relocation of the existing chapel.
Catholic Healthcare West, owners of the hospital, undertook the project partially to meet the requirements of state Senate Bill 1953, which requires all acute care inpatient hospitals in California to meet strict new seismic safety standards by 2013, or 2015 if granted an extension.
But a bigger reason for upgrading was to keep up with new medical practices, says Jeremy Schrimsher, vice president of ancillary services for the hospital.
“Mercy General is a regional leader for cardiovascular services and [current] technology required a new structure,” Schrimsher says.
Construction broke ground in April 2008 and is currently undergoing “get-ready” sitework for the tower, says Pete Kreuser project executive with Redwood City-based DPR Construction, the project’s general contractor.
When complete in December 2012, the building will accommodate surgery, postsurgery intensive care, cardiac catheterization, a cardiac patient center for “one-stop” heart patient intake and diagnostics and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. There will also be a cardiac library open to patients and family.
Onnen says the tower’s “arts and crafts” design was inspired by the historic nature of the bungalow-filled Sacramento neighborhood surrounding the hospital.
“We didn’t want to build just another big-box hospital with punched windows,” he says. “So we went on field trips to the California Hotel at Disneyland and to the Gamble House in Pasadena to pick-up small arts and crafts details to incorporate into the project.”
He says the structure’s façade will feature tapered stone and tile columns and lanterns similar...