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Real Estate Bisnow
September 22, 2008

Hospital Building 101


Late last week we checked out Turner Construction's symposium on building "Today's Hospital" at, where else, the National Building Museum. If you don't know, Turner is one the world's largest construction companies, with projects totaling about $9 billion/year. They invited 100 of their closest healthcare friends (yet somehow we got in) for an update on trends in healthcare development.


The buzzword was BIM (Building Information Modeling), which uses 3-D, 4-D, and 5-D images to let you to see an entire project before construction begins. (Raise your hand if you thought 5-D was only possible if you stared cross-eyed at that crazy pixilated art in mall kiosks.) Turner's Steve Johnson, right, and Gilbane's Mike Delaney explained many hospital-related BIM benefits. For example, you'll always have those 3-D schematics fully loaded with in-place physical information. Therefore, when it's time for the inevitable equipment reshuffling or routine maintenance, patient care won't be interrupted to determine what lurks behind that ceiling tile.


We cheated and met with Turner Healthcare Manager Joe Kranz a few days ago in Arlington for a 1-on-1 lesson. He told us another concept du jour is Lean production, a waste-cutting method with origins in Toyota plants. In construction, it saves costs; in healthcare, it saves lives by maximizing caregivers' time. One example of success: Park Nicolett Hospital in Minnesota trimmed so much patient wait time, they now have 80k square feet of excess waiting room. Turner's other healthcare projects include: the 8-story replacement for Washington Adventist Hospital, due in August 2012; the Inova Alexandria expansion, including space for a 24-bed Telemetry Nursing unit, due in August 2010; and Inova Fairfax's hybrid CathLab/OR.


Steve is the Project Engineer on construction at the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, set for completion in fall '10. He says BIM expedited construction by 6 months because Turner can simultaneously design and build in real time. Of course, it's not like they had a choice. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission mandated the completion date. As a former Naval Officer, Steve knew better than to say anything but yes. Or, more accurately, "Yes, sir."

Curtis Raye is building a hospital, too. Send contributions to his offshore bank account or story ideas to

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