Major construction is nearing completion at the new Veterans Affairs Hospital in New Orleans, La.

The $1 billion project broke ground in June 2010 and features 1.6 million sq ft of space in eight buildings spread out over a 31-acre campus. When completed, the hospital will house 120 medical and surgery beds, 40 rehab beds, 23 exam rooms, and 400,000 sq ft of outpatient space. The campus will serve up to 70,000 veterans from around the region.

Fernando Rivera, CEO and director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, says construction of the hospital is currently 88% complete.

At the onset of the project, the VA worked with contractors to create a phased completion process. The VA started accepting hospital buildings in December 2015 and has so far received the inpatient tower, a 1,000-car patient parking garage and the energy management plant. Rivera says the VA is now in the process of delivering furniture, installing IT and medical equipment, and preparing the spaces for use.

"The best indication of the quality and coordination of the construction is that we have so far successfully been able to progress well through phased activations," says Rivera. "Next month we'll begin moving some administrative staff to areas in the main hospital building and we have already started to move some staff into the energy plant building."

ENR profiled the project in February 2015.

The new complex was designed to replace the old VA hospital which suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Buildings are being constructed in a unique "upside down," disaster resilient fashion that places all essential infrastructure, facilities and services at an elevated level. A 1,200-foot-long pedestrian concourse runs along the campus on the fourth floor and provides access to all buildings in the event of a flood. The ambulance dock was constructed at an elevation of 19 feet and can double as a boat dock in the event of a major flood. The campus also features its own power station and an infrastructure to serve 1,000 patients for at least five days in the event of a disaster.

The lead architect is Studio NOVA, a joint venture between NBBJ, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Rozas Ward Architects. The general contractor is Clark/McCarthy Healthcare Partners, a joint venture between Clark Construction Group and McCarthy Building Cos.

Rivera says the project initially experienced delays in obtaining the land from the state. The site was originally selected in November 2008. Demolition began in June 2010 but the contractor was not able to start driving test piles and surcharging until February 2012.

While there were some unforeseen site conditions, a couple of design errors and some troubleshooting needed in systems, Rivera says they project has gone very well and "once we got past [the site issues], there really weren't any significant delays."

Rivera says the VA expects to receive the outpatient tower and transitional living space in May or June and the diagnostic and treatment buildings by October.