By blending together BSA’s widely known healthcare experience, CSO’s management skills on large projects like the Indianapolis International Airport, and RATIO’s recognized design capabilities, CURIS Design aims to create a local entity that brings a wealth of architectural expertise to a healthcare project of unprecedented scale and complexity.
“It is imperative that the design team have a heart for the city, an appreciation for its history and the history of the neighborhood, a real desire to do what’s best for their neighbors, and first-hand awareness of IU Health’s impact,” said Keith Smith, Chief Strategy Officer of BSA. “Each firm that participates will share in the success of the IU Health Mission as well as grow their own business in the process, which will serve the area well as the firms grow and sharpen the capabilities they bring to other projects.”
A project of this magnitude will certainly stimulate the local economy and surrounding businesses during a time when the design and construction industries are struggling to replace retiring employees.
“The timing of this multi-year project could not be better and will be of great benefit to the local architectural, engineering, and construction community that has seen the beginnings of what could be a significant slowdown in design and construction activity nationally,” said Alan Tucker, President of CSO.
As the industry loses more workers to retirement and looks to recruit a new labor force to replace them, this billion-dollar-plus development will create more design and construction jobs that will incentivize young people to join the industry. The new hospital, which will consolidate operations of University and Methodist hospitals into a new hospital at 16th Street and Capitol Avenue, combined with other campus projects, infrastructure improvements, and the new IU School of Medicine building, will together create one of the largest healthcare projects in the country. Firm leaders said they expect to augment themselves with the necessary engineering and specialty consultants and hope that many of these professionals will be local.
“We’re going to be doing this in a way that will really show how the local AE community can deliver a project of this scale and complexity,” said Bill Browne, President of RATIO. “There are a lot of opportunities for the AEC industry to get involved beyond just the hospital building.”
Surrounding businesses will likely benefit from the increased traffic generated by this project, but the transformation of the neighborhood where the campus will stand has motivated IU Health to reach out to local groups to determine how this design can enhance the Near North neighborhood.
“IU Health has had over 60 meetings with neighborhood groups and associations as well as government and civic leaders over the last 18 months to talk about how this project can be that catalyst to change the neighborhood and create a health district that goes far beyond our campus,” said Jim Mladucky, Vice President of Design and Construction for IU Health.
Through these meetings, IU Health learned about some of the neighbors’ concerns regarding workforce housing, food accessibility, trail wayfinding, and more. Mladucky said IU Health is working with the city, state, and residents of the Near North neighborhood to address those issues. For example, Mladucky said IU Health has an interest in extending the current Indianapolis trail system from Fall Creek towards their campus where there is currently a trail gap.
“This project really reaches out to the community and invites them in and creates a place that will attract and retain the best talent in the country,” Mladucky said.
“The goal here is to become more efficient” Mladucky said. “You can come to one location, park your car, check in, see your doctor, and get all the diagnostics you need, and you don’t have to go to another building.”
Several objectives for this project are being set forth by IU Health to increase the level of convenience for patients, staff, and visitors. Improving wayfinding and parking, adding spaces that support clinical best practices and state-of-the-art technology, and increasing community access to high quality healthcare are just a few of the strategies IU Health will employ to accomplish their overarching efficiency goals.
By pulling together dispersed medical concentrations and aligning design elements, Smith said IU Health’s staff will benefit from a more consistent workplace experience and a better-communicated brand. Mladucky added that the new hospital’s connection to the IU School of Medicine will also improve their bench research to bedside approach and will help teach the next generation of healthcare providers in a single location.
He said the country’s last recession in 2008 significantly reduced the capacity of many disadvantaged businesses locally and now only a handful of architecture firms in the city have XBE capacity. Browne is hopeful that this project will help grow local XBE businesses as well as educate them on ways to operate their businesses during a recession so when the next economic down cycle comes around, they can survive.
“Can we help them build themselves even more, not only from a size standpoint, but from a capability standpoint so that they can do larger projects on their own?” Browne asked.
IU Health is learning from recent healthcare changes to shape some of the project’s design strategies. Mladucky said the spread of COVID-19 reinforced to IU Health the importance of being able to rapidly pivot and change operations at the drop of a hat. Design elements will be incorporated into the new hospital that allow for more flexibility, including adaptable rooms designs that can be quickly converted from patient sleeping rooms or nursing units into intensive or critical care units. HVAC systems must also accommodate the highest level of filtration and need to be designated to the specific areas in which they serve instead of a uniform approach throughout the building. Additionally, Smith said some facility access points need to be isolated from general public access points where contagious patients are anticipated. An increased capacity for virtual doctor visits will be incorporated into the design as well.
These changes will take time to implement, but progress is already being made on the development. CURIS is currently in the process of accepting prior work from IU Health’s advisory council and they expect to complete the master planning and programming phase of the project in the coming months. Smith said CURIS will then begin their “visioning phase” in which they will take the goals and objectives set forth by IU Health and build upon them to a larger audience as they engage more users in the process. More traditional phases like core and shell, build out, etc., will come next as they work towards their 2026 completion date.