Sanford Medical Center
Fargo, N.D.        
Best Project, Health Care; Award of Merit, Excellence in Safety

Key Players
Sanford Health
Lead Design Firm/Structural Engineer: HKS Architects
General Contractor: M.A. Mortenson Construction
MEP Engineer: CCRD Partners
Architect-of-Record: JLG Architects
Landscape Architect: Lightowler Johnson Associates Inc.

The 384-bed Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, N.D., brings Level 1 trauma services to the region. Additional treatment services include pediatric intensive care, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, heart surgery and other specialties. 

Designed in a collegiate Gothic architectural style and constructed with an eye toward protecting the environment, the 11-story facility will use one-third less energy per square foot than typical hospitals in the area. The design of the building’s four towers allow all patient rooms to have large windows with ample natural light and unobstructed views.

Prefabrication was key to maintaining quality on the project. “Just like an assembly line at an auto plant, you want your actions to be repetitive,” says Taylor Cupp, senior integrated construction coordinator for Mortenson, the contractor. “That makes it economical, improves quality and makes the project safer because you’re not changing what you’re doing.”

For example, headwalls in each patient room were constructed in a controlled environment. That process allows for exact, identical placement of medical equipment and gas, power and outlets in every room. Mortenson credits the headwalls for a 30% time savings per room for the various trades that installed the equipment. 

Ductwork, HVAC piping, fire-protection equipment and electrical systems all arrived in modular racks delivered to the site ready to lift into place, resulting in an estimated savings of hundreds of thousands of additional hours on site by various trades. The racks were placed in corridors in the same locations on each floor to ease future maintenance.

More than 20 years ago, Mortenson began what it calls its zero-injury program, which assumes that every onsite injury is preventable. Emphasizing respect for workers, the program encourages crews to talk with jobsite leaders about any safety issue, no matter how its solution might affect productivity or profit. Leaders are expected to listen to their people and put safety concerns first, without exception. 

Injury prevention and wellness also focused on ergonomics, which the contractor describes as “the principle that a job should be adapted to the people performing it rather than forcing people to fit the job.”

For example, Mortenson used a recently introduced door installation system called the Doorminator. It revamps the way workers install doors by eliminating awkward postures, and thus reduces the risk of strains, sprains and cumulative trauma issues. The comprehensive program helped keep the more than 700 workers on the massive jobsite healthy and safe.

Related Article: Institutional Work Leads Field of 2017 Best Projects Winners