Emory University Hospital Opens New Wing

A new wing of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta is providing patients and medical students with a multiple-service, state-of-the-art teaching facility that features advanced health care building design.

The nine-story, 450,000-square-foot building, known as the J-Wing, is centrally located within the university campus, providing 232 patient beds, as well as associated diagnostic and treatment spaces. Patient care units in the large teaching hospital were designed for both cancer and transplant patients.

WSP USA provided mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering for the project on behalf of the clients, which included SmithGroupJJR, architect; BDR, program manager; and the owner, Emory University.

The $254 million J-Wing opened its first two floors to patients in August, and was fully operational by late 2017. The new hospital expansion provides a wide range of medical services, including bone marrow transplant, hematology and medical oncology, critical care, intensive care, dialysis, laboratory services and imaging.

The exterior of the hospital features a striking marble façade, and includes a 500-space underground parking garage for easy access to the facility.

The site also features pedestrian overpass bridges that provide safer crossings for students, patients and staff between the hospital buildings.

“They are massive—including one that is a double decker—and are really beautiful and intricate,” said April Woods, WSP’s project manager and lead mechanical engineer. “A lot of time was spent designing the bridges to provide a connection to the existing hospital and clinics, which is especially important in the humid climate. The bridges have become a focal point of the facility.”

©2018 WSP USA

The bridges connecting to the J-Wing, including the double decker shown at the left, have created safer passage to the other medical buildings and clinics at Emory University Hospital.

Long, Skinny, Vertical

The J-Wing was designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Certification is pending. WSP’s work on the MEP components were a key contributor to meeting those sustainability thresholds.

“The building’s highly efficient central plant includes a heat pump chiller designed to yield more than 20 percent energy savings for the owner,” Woods said. “The mechanical system also includes a condensate recovery system that is used for cooling tower make-up water that will save millions of gallons of potable water.”

To increase the efficiency of the heat pump chiller, WSP designed a 60-degree heating water system that uses an inner and outer water loop concept to lower the temperature of the water as it enters the chiller.

The new wing was built on a narrow lot within the campus, which posed some architectural challenges, but worked out to be an advantage for the MEP system design.

“A long, skinny, vertical building lent itself well to the overall layout of the MEP system,” Woods said. “Based on how we did the layout, the ducts and pipes don’t have to run quite as far, from an HVAC distribution standpoint. It was a good building to design from that aspect.”

Another design challenge was incorporating all of Emory University’s goals while staying within the height restrictions required by Dekalb County. “Considering the site logistics within the campus, we had no choice but to go vertical with the design, and were able to maximize the space to get the number of beds desired,” Woods said.

©2018 WSP USA

The nine-story J-Wing is centrally located within the Emory University campus.

Blank Slate

One of the biggest design challenges was the uncertainty of what would be going where inside the new building. This approach demanded flexibility and constant communication among everyone involved in its design and construction.

“In the beginning, we were preparing the core and the shell of the building with specific tenant improvements coming later,” said Danna Jensen, senior project manager. “We worked with a blank slate, and would make changes quickly as plans for each floor were revealed. By maintaining good communication with the contractor and keeping up with the schedule, the design team was ready for anything.”

Additional members of WSP’s project team throughout the entire six-year project included Kevin Miller, principal-in-charge; Jason Jullie, lead electrical engineer; Mark Tyndall, lead plumbing engineer; Ryan Collins, mechanical engineer; Antwon Scott, electrical designer; and Jon Kaminski, plumbing designer. George Campbell served as the original principal-in-charge prior to his retirement.

“It was a unique experience to be able to maintain the exact same design team throughout the duration of the project,” Woods said. “The continuity of our team helped us maintain our efficiencies and expertise while remaining very nimble and flexible with our design.”

©2018 WSP USA

The Emory Hospital project team from WSP in Dallas included Mark Tyndall, Jason Jullie, Jon Kaminski, Ryan Collins, Antwon Scott, Kevin Miller and Danna Jensen.  

Memorable Experience

Jensen still recalls the excitement receiving word in early 2012 that the firm would be working on the project and the opportunity to work with Campbell.

“After our interview with the client, the team flew back to Dallas that same day,” she said. “By the time we landed, the architect had called George to let him know we had won the project. We were ecstatic! George was a huge mentor and played an instrumental role in building my career, so it was an honor to work closely with him on this major project, his last before he retired.”

Woods and Jensen agreed it was a rewarding experience filled with milestones – both professional and personal – along the way.

“Our team was really strong, and the relationships we were able to build were great,” Woods said. “It was a high-profile project, and something we are all proud to have on our resumes.”

©2018 WSP USA

April Woods, who now serves as a senior associate in the Orlando office, was WSP’s project manager for the J-Wing at Emory University Hospital.

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