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Hospital Construction Methods Lower Costs, Raise Benefits

Kevin Kraiss, for HealthLeaders Media, March 25, 2011

However, early tilt-up buildings were easy to spot; those pioneering efforts tended to result in a drab, boxy appearance best suited to warehouses and industrial buildings. They were also limited to one or two stories in height. But recent advances in technology have made it possible to vastly improve the appearance, variety and height of tilt-up panels, making many such buildings indistinguishable from those constructed using other methods. Thus the tilt-up technique has become an increasingly viable choice for homes, offices, hotels, schools–and healthcare facilities.

Aside from the time and cost advantages, another benefit of tilt-up construction is that once a prototype is created, facilities can be easily replicated at multiple locations while retaining the flexibility to respond to each unique market and its healthcare needs.

The future of project delivery

The health system mentioned earlier in this article took advantage of all three of these proven innovations – IPD, BIM and advanced tilt-up construction methods to deliver multiple new facilities, including medical office buildings and freestanding emergency departments. These multi-story buildings were delivered in eight months rather than the 12 months that would have been required for traditional construction. Core and shell construction costs were $70 per square foot, a dramatic reduction from initial estimates of $135 per square foot.

In addition to simply saving time and money, this geographic expansion will enable the health system to make high-quality care more accessible and convenient for residents of a broader geographic area. Moreover, it will be able to do so with buildings that have a consistent look and feel throughout the region, in other words, branded facilities that are immediately recognizable as part of that system thanks to distinctive but standardized materials and other design elements.

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