SBA Wins 6th ASHE Vista Award for New Construction

Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA) is pleased to announce that we are part of the team receiving the 2015 VISTA award sponsored by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE). The Baystate Health Project Team, including SBA along with Suffolk Construction and R. G. Vanderweil Engineers, have been honored with the Vista Award for New Construction for our 640,000 square-foot Hospital of the Future project at the Baystate Medical Center campus in Springfield, Massachusetts.

ASHE’s prestigious Vista Awards Program focuses on the importance of teamwork in creating optimal healthcare environments. The award recognizes outstanding built products that were developed and executed through careful collaborative efforts among owners, architects, contractors, engineers, and hospital staff and executives.

Completed in 2012, the Hospital of the Future provides a three-wing campus expansion that adds several interdisciplinary components to the healthcare campus, including the new Davis Family Heart and Vascular Center as well as an Emergency and Level-1 Trauma Center. Located in western Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center is the only academic tertiary/quarternary medical center serving the regions of central and western New England. The Hospital of the Future project was developed as part of Baystate’s 15-year master plan, which was initiated with SBA and in-house healthcare planners Sterling Planning Alliance.

This most recent award is the sixth Vista award that SBA has won in the firm’s 80-year history, and is the third we have received with our long-term clients at Baystate Health. Over the last two decades, SBA’s designers have been part of Vista-winning project teams for Baystate’s D’Amour Center for Cancer Care as well as Baystate’s 3300 Main Street and Chestnut Surgery Center, undertaken as a joint venture with HKS, Inc., architects of Dallas, Texas.

SBA also previously received the Vista Award for the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center; Great Brook Valley Health Center; and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Children’s Hospital in Lexington, Massachusetts.

The Vista Awards are not just design awards, but multi-disciplinary team awards. Project winners must demonstrate a cohesive relationship between key stakeholders and exhibit how that collaborative partnership shaped the project from initial planning phases through building occupation—including successful post-occupancy evaluations from users, strong cost and schedule control, and long-term cost savings.

“Teamwork is critical to the success of high-quality healthcare construction projects,” writes Deanna Martin, ASHE senior communications specialist, in the 2014 awards announcement. “To truly meet an organization’s needs, those involved with planning, design, and construction of a healthcare project must work together toward common goals.”

The 2015 ASHE Vista Awards were presented on March 16, 2015, at the PDC Summit held in San Antonio, Texas. At the ceremony, SBA’s President and CEO Kurt Rockstroh was joined by project partners Michael F. Moran, Vice President of Clinical, Facilities & Guest Services at Baystate Health, and Michael Forth, Project Executive at Suffolk Construction.

“We are all delighted to be receiving the award this year,” explains Rockstroh, “SBA has worked for more than two decades now with Baystate Health, and we always enjoy a successful partnership with them on any project, whether large or small. The Hospital of the Future project was particularly unique in that we faced—and overcame—so many challenges together, including developing and constructing the project during the country’s most recent recession.”

Baystate’s Michael Moran credits the project with being the easiest in the organization’s history: “Despite being the largest project that Baystate Health has ever undertaken, it was also the smoothest project we have ever done. It was completed on time, on budget, and with virtually no post-occupancy changes. There was incredible teamwork between the owner, architects, engineers, and construction manager, all the way from the executive level down.”

The Hospital’s success stems from a cohesive vision and project management. More than 200 individuals were involved across the project’s entire development. In the planning stages alone, 13 multi-disciplinary groups and 8 executive committees were organized and given the task of evaluating current standards and developing alternative goals for best practices and optimal models of patient care.

“This complicated project required us to have a clear vision from the beginning. The entire team of healthcare professionals and designers/engineers worked together to develop a set of Guiding Principles right at the project outset,” explains Linda Haggerty, Principal at SBA and lead interior designer for Baystate projects.

The Hospital of the Future required complicated coordination efforts, including the relocation and replacement of many of the hospital’s current services, including a significant number of inpatient beds. The team also had to coordinate with departments that would still be operational mere feet from the new construction site. Together, the entire project team coordinated with physicians, nurses, support staff, patients, family members, and neighborhood community representatives to create the set of Guiding Principles to keep the project on track.

 “What made the project so satisfying is that the entire team—including the administration, hospital staff, and patient advocates—wanted to change the healthcare experience for patients and families,” remarks Haggerty. “It almost sounds cliché in today’s marketplace, but it was true. Each decision we made was measured against these Guiding Principles, which set the groundwork for how we aimed to change the healthcare environment.”

The internal environment was not the only thing on the team’s mind: the neighborhood and surrounding community played a key role in how the Hospital project evolved.

To avoid disturbing the community, an innovative phased construction approach allowed the entire shell and core to be constructed first, with the interior fit-out completed in subsequent phases. “We had to convince the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to approve the project in this way,” explains Rockstroh, “since they rarely approved more than 10% of empty shell space for new construction.”

By engaging the community and hospital executives early on, the team gained the consensus that then helped them explain to DPH the project’s viability. “We involved voices from across the hospital and the community,” explains Bobbe Young, Principal of Sterling Planning Alliance. “These discussions continued throughout the project’s development and execution, so we were always thinking consciously about how every project and design decision would affect the ways that the building and the hospital would perform. The neighborhood representatives really were the ones who sold the project to the DPH.”

Planning for this unique project meant planning both for the present and the future. “The biggest challenge was imagining the hospital’s growth over the next fifteen years,” notes Haggerty. “This project wasn’t really about a single project but a series of projects that occurred over a long period of time within a built shell. This approach is extremely rare, and we had to plan for the mechanical systems, infrastructure, and patient care models that would be required many years down the road.”

John Saad, Managing Principal of Vanderweil Engineers, felt this challenge presented a unique opportunity from the engineering standpoint: “We had to design the engineering systems and infrastructure to accommodate both current and future phases of construction implementation while still being economically responsible and reasonable. This was truly a unique effort. Our successful ability to evaluate the various systems, for both today and tomorrow, required careful consideration and input from each and every team member.”  

Since opening, Baystate’s Hospital of the Future has had a tremendous effect on hospital operations and on the patient experience. Patient and staff surveys show that occupants now appreciate a significant increase in cleanliness and quiet throughout the hospital, more flexible staff working areas and support, increased patient capacity and reduced wait times, and overall building sustainability and lowered operational costs.

“The team’s diligent master planning, detailed workflow analyses, and strategic reengineering have paid off in the most remarkable ways,” says Baystate’s Michael Moran, “and the unrelenting team spirit pushed us through obstacles to get to those results. We are so pleased with this project and the ongoing support we’ve now engaged with our neighbors, the city of Springfield, and the local trades and generous donors who all contributed to this superb endeavor.” 

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