IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa (UI) officials announced earlier this month that the $292 million UI Children’s Hospital remains on track for a late summer 2016 opening, despite challenging winter weather and a dearth of skilled laborers in the area. Word on whether or not the project will be completed under budget will become available later this month.
Scott Turner, executive director of the UI Children’s Hospital, told the state’s Board of Regents recently that the 14-story project (two floors below ground, 14 above) has progressed from design into its transitional and operational phase, according to the Iowa Press-Citizen. The hospital is also in the process of identifying which staff will be moving into the new facility from the existing hospital, as well as how many new employees — from nurses to maintenance staff — the 134-bed hospital will require.
Portions of the hospital’s ground through sixth floors will align with those of existing buildings. Perfecting this alignment required additional time and expense during the design process to ensure “seamless transitions” between sensitive areas such as the neo-natal intensive care unit and operating rooms, Turner told the Iowa Press-Citizen.
The hospital, which was carefully designed to promote healing, offers an abundance of natural light introduced via large windows in patient-occupied areas, as well as strategically positioned light wells. Massive ground floor-to-ceiling windows are also included in the design, illuminating a café, recreation area and library. Those on the upper floors will even be able to enjoy a view into the nearby Kinnick Stadium, home to the university’s football team, the Hawkeyes. Work on the facility’s interior will likely begin next month after the building’s exterior is sealed.
Several features were also integrated to ensure both physical and environmental safety for users. For example, despite the fact that the community lies in an area that regularly experiences tornadoes, the design ensures that patients will remain safe in the event of severe weather thanks to windows that can withstand considerable force. Additionally, the hospital will include a special, environmentally secure unit for separating contagious patients from the rest of the population.
Construction on the UI Children’s Hospital, which will include 480,000 square feet of new construction and a more than 56,000-square-foot renovation, began in fall 2012. The $292 million hospital is being funding through a combination of bonds, patient revenue and private gifts.