Healthcare facilities present numerous structural challenges relating to the delivery of patient care, the type of healthcare provision, the operational requirements of the healthcare provider and the architectural vision for the project.
Whether the facility is an exclusive private clinic or a large general hospital, a state of the art cancer centre or a high-tech medical research facility, new-build, extension or refurbishment, we pride ourselves in the delivery of sophisticated, cost-effective and sustainable structural solutions aligned to our clients’ requirements.
From Architectural Aspirations to Clinical Imperatives
We adapt our approach on each project according to the widely varying demands of the facility, depending on client priorities and operational requirements. The diversity of our projects demonstrate the breadth of our experience in healthcare, ranging from architectural masterpieces such as Frank Gehry’s extraordinary Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas USA, to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow with its vast reinforced concrete frame designed for better resistance vibration, improved acoustic performance and increased thermal mass for reduced energy consumption.
We also support the clinical imperatives of each project, which might range from meeting the strict vibration criteria for the floors of operating theatres to specifying materials for easy maintenance, or from ensuring adequate floor loadings for heavy diagnostic equipment to integrating the dense walls required for radiotherapy bunkers.
Niagara Health System – New Health Care Complex & Walker Family Cancer Centre
Efficiency, Longevity and Affordability
Acutely aware of funding pressures, we prioritise cost-effective, high quality solutions taking into account the whole life-cycle of the building. We specify robust and durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of the healthcare environment and reduce the need for future structural maintenance. We assist in controlling construction costs with innovations, such as the building-envelope design for Alder Hey Children’s Health Park in Liverpool, UK. This involves a pre-cast concrete façade that doubles as structure and cladding and, since the system requires fewer internal columns, brings the added benefit of maximum flexibility for room layouts.
Structural Engineering for Healthcare Demands Flexibility
The quickening pace of change means that facilities are constantly being reconfigured to ensure they continue to meet the demands of modern clinical care. With this in mind, we design with flexibility to adapt to future technological advances or the need to reconfigure clinical areas for other uses. This includes ensuring that the structure has the ability to support both immediate and future requirements for the high level of services required in a hospital, such as power, air flow, gasses, critical data and back-up supplies.
We also consider the practicalities of moving around huge pieces of technical equipment such as CT scanners and X-Ray machines. Our designs for a new cancer care centre at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden included removable parts in exterior walls to allow for the future installation of replacement scanners and other medical equipment.
Inevitably, facilities require upgrading or redevelopment as demands on healthcare services grow and change, buildings age, additional space is required for the latest medical equipment and researchers and clinical staff need additional resources to develop new treatments. By far the greatest challenge is to deliver a new structure while working in a live and congested hospital environment, as at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where we are part of the extensive redevelopment program to refurbish and replace the hospital’s ageing facilities, construct new structures for clinical care above and adjacent to operational wards and treatment rooms, all without interrupting patient care.
Understanding is Key
Our aim is always to deliver the optimum structure to provide effective workspaces for clinicians and the best environment for patients. As a global leader in structural design, with many years’ experience in the delivery of healthcare facilities of all kinds, we know that working closely with our clients, medical professionals and patients to fully understand their current future needs is the key to success in this highly demanding, rapidly evolving industry.