Healthcare Construction Boom
Every major Boston hospital is planning, building or recently completing a new development, says Newmark Grubb Knight Frank executive managing director Frank Nelson. (Sounds like keeping up with the Dr. Joneses.) We hope you'll join us to delve into this lucrative market at Bisnow’s State of Boston Healthcare Real Estate, Dec. 17, 7:30am at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Rowes Wharf, Boston. Register here. For today, here's a preview.
Boston facilities are pairing state-of-the-art real estate development with advanced planning and administration, Frank says. Several decades ago, when many of these hospitals were first built, it was assumed that they’d be big without much regard for energy and maintenance costs; function 24/7; and base their activities on one urban campus. Efficiency wasn’t the top priority.
Now, their real estate operates more like first-class office buildings, with energy conservation a major concern. New construction is smaller, leaner and oriented to helping streamline the patient and visitor experience, Frank tells us. Facilities like Brigham & Women's Building for the Future have been designed to make it easy for patients to reach them, enter, be served quickly and leave in a convenient manner.
In the past, hospital utilities ran around the clock, gobbling energy. Now, buildings have shut-off zones to minimize energy use. While their main campuses are still in the heart of the city, all the major hospitals touch suburban locations along Route 128 (like MGH West in Waltham) and I-495. Healthcare institutions employ various strategies that bring them closer to patients, including opening satellite facilities or partnering with provider offices.
Partners HealthCare Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital broke ground on its new building in the Charlestown Naval Shipyard—a 262k SF facility plus 100k SF of underground parking designed by Perkins+Will—in 2010. With the construction industry still emerging from the recession, the construction pricing was a lot lower than it would be today, says president David Storto. All 132 patient rooms are single occupancy with private baths. Each patient room and all other spaces are accessible to people of all abilities, which wasn’t the case in the old Spaulding building. There’s more therapy space, including the signature gymnasium, which has a soaring ceiling and floor-to-ceiling glazing with water views.
The hospital opened its new building 12 days after the Marathon bombings injured hundreds of people who were treated there. That coincidence has drawn lots of attention to Spaulding and to rehab medicine, says David (with therapist Abigail Spaulding, granddaughter of founder Josiah). Overlooking the water in Charlestown, it’s so beautiful, well-equipped and has upgraded patient care so much, some patients call it the “Rehab Resort.” A survey ranked the new facility in the 98th percentile nationally for patient satisfaction, much higher than when Spaulding was in its old building.
The first new replacement hospital built in Boston in at least 30 years, it was 17 years in the making. Patients and staff are happier, David tells us. They don’t have to deal with cramped, outmoded patient rooms and an inaccessible main entrance. The patient rooms line the building perimeter for maximum daylight. Closets allow for 180-degree opening so a patient in a wheelchair can have full access. Sinks are shallow for minimal reaching and all fixtures are motion activated. Outside, wheelchair cutouts are incorporated into the seating design. In the outdoor therapy garden (above), patients can learn to navigate a variety of surfaces: sand, cobblestones, concrete stairs and a boardwalk. The hospital is certified LEED Gold and features safeguards against flooding from storms and rising sea level.
Spaulding plans to grow, David says. It has three hospitals and 24 outpatient sites in eastern Massachusetts, including two opened this year in Quincy and Hanover on the South Shore. It expects to open 10 more outpatient centers in the next several years and build a new skilled nursing facility in Boston that will serve people now getting care from one Spaulding facility in the North End and one in Roxbury. Work recently got underway on a $6M expansion of its hospital in Sandwich on Cape Cod.
Dana Farber Cancer Institute's new lab space has inspired some research scientists to change the way they work, VP Wendy Gettleman tells us. A year ago, they started using 150k SF of research space the Institute leases in the new Longwood Center in the LMA, developed by National Development, Alexandria and Clarion, and designed by Elkus Manfredi and ARC Cambridge.
The computer stations are outside the wet labs, allowing for greater collaboration. It’s a relatively small change that makes a big difference. In their old space, where workstations were inside the labs, food and beverages were prohibited. That made it tricky for scientists to have a casual conversation with colleagues over coffee; they had to go elsewhere.
Dana Farber recently started to build out an additional 50k SF for a vivarium in the new building, Wendy says. With the cost to develop new labs at about $1k/SF, and to renovate existing space for labs even higher, growth plans are considered very carefully. By next summer, Wendy expects that the Institute will have a draft of its new master plan for growth from now through 2025.