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The Master Planners

Guiding much of the campus redevelopment is an in-house design team: Anatoly Gimburg, left, oversees mechanical systems; Marge Siegmeister, with plans, and Mike Iati, far right, are architects; Howard Reel, in hard hat, manages construction; Sally MacConnell, second from right, oversees the entire project.
It’s the beginning of a new academic year, and with it likely will come groundbreaking for what in scope and size is arguably the most significant hospital construction project in the country. Eventually, two connecting towers will begin to rise on a five-acre site at the southeast corner of the East Baltimore medical campus.

The $500 million project has so far been guided by Hopkins Hospital’s in-house design team. Composed of architects, engineers and support staff from JHH facilities, this group has spent the last two years gathering information from faculty and staff and working with outside architects to translate their needs and dreams into dozens of preliminary design drawings.

Late last spring, a pivotal point was reached when all the “users” settled on exactly what would go in the buildings and where it would go, and the clinical chiefs literally signed off on the plans. A complete set of schematic design drawings was developed, and this fall, the project will move into design development.

In this phase of architecture, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Every room in the building is planned, down to the square inch, from equipment layout to interior finishes. Facilities built mock ORs and patient rooms in the old Maryland Hospital Laundry. Throughout the summer, physicians, nurse managers, nursing staff and others braved the intense heat and traipsed to the cavernous, uncooled laundry to see the rooms. Outside each one, on big pads of newsprint, they jotted down suggestions: “The vision panels should slide,” “We need to consider the size of a specialty bed,” etc.

“It’s hard to know, based on a tiny square on an architect’s drawing, how a hospital room will actually look and function,” says Michael Iati, director of architecture. “These mock-ups should help people understand the ramifications of what they said they needed.”

East Baltimore’s 10-year master plan has its origins in the mid-1990s when Weinberg was conceived as the first of three new clinical buildings. But it was not until 2001, when Weinberg opened, that work on the large-scale transformation of the medical campus began in earnest. “It was very conceptual, high-level stuff: What programs might go in the buildings? How might the main entrance to the hospital be reconfigured? That was an exciting time,” Iati recalls.

The hardest part? Scheduling meetings. Iati and Sally MacConnell, VP of facilities, in particular, have made hundreds of presentations to deans, chiefs, key faculty and staff. “It’s been hard because these are very busy clinical people,” says Iati.

To complicate matters, three departments—surgery, anesthesiology and radiology—were selecting new chairmen when planning began. With everyone jockeying for the space, the facilities team often found themselves striking a balance between competing needs and budget realities.

When the design is fully developed, all the required technical information will be added to the drawings. Thousands of pages of construction documents will be compiled, the project put out for bid, and ultimately, construction will begin.

—Anne Bennett Swingle

 

 

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