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Hospital Design Channels Young Patients


Shriners Hospital St. Louis, Metal Architecture, Top Honors, Marcy Marro, February 2016

The new Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis is considered one of the most up-to-date, interactive health care facilities for children and their families. Completed in May 2015, the hospital is located on 3.75 acres on the campus of the Washington University School of Medicine, and replaces the current 50-year-old hospital in Frontenac. It is the third facility for Shriners Hospitals for Children in St. Louis since opening in 1924.

Designed by St. Louis-based Christner Inc., the $50 million, 90,000-square-foot hospital has 12 inpatient beds, 18 outpatient clinic examination rooms, three surgical suites and four fitting rooms for orthotics and prosthetics. There is also an interactive and educational activity area in the patient waiting room/lobby, and space for physical and occupational therapy, child life, radiology, respiratory therapy, pain management and social services. The center's third floor is dedicated to research.

Moving to a largely outpatient based model, Shriners wanted to inspire young patients to want to come to the doctor's office, which started with the building's exterior. "While the envelope must respond to all of the demanding technical requirements of the building's function-surgery, inpatients nursing units, clinics and research laboratory space-it is also meant to intrigue the young visitor and signal that visitors can expect to be surprised and even entertained," explains Tom VanLandingham, principal at Christner.

Todd Staley, general manager of the project specialty enclosure contractor and installer IWR Building Systems, St. Louis, notes that the complexity of the building's functional exterior reflects the hospital's mission to be a leader in the health care industry by transforming children's lives. "Its location directly off the highway means the building itself acts as advertising for the facility, so the building's exterior enclosure needed to echo the amazing care patients receive inside," he adds.

The exterior of the hospital consists of 3,600 rotated square aluminum composite material (ACM) panels that required precise craftsmanship due to the intricate geometric details of the building surface. To allow for drainage behind the panels, the panel system was engineered with a pressure-equalized rainscreen design. Universe Corp., Bridgeton, Mo., fabricated the 0.04-mm ACM panels from ALPOLIC-Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va., with a fire-retardant core.

VanLandingham says the design goals imposed a coordinated geometry on the construction of the building envelope. "It was clear that even with an aggressive schedule, the panels could only be produced after the other materials were in place and could be field measured," he says.

"ACM panels were not only the most costeffective choice, they were also the easiest product to quickly fabricate," adds Keith A. Myers, executive vice president of St. Louis-based MHS Legacy Group, the parent company of IWR.

According to Staley, the layout of the panels proved extremely challenging. On some corners, the panels are severely angled or even folded in half. "The rotated squares were offset by reveals that added to the efficiency of the water-resistant enclosure, and placing one square even 1/8-inch off the grid would affect the entire installation project," he explains. "The building also has rounded edges and out-of-plane and off-radius walls that had to be considered during the overall design process and compensated for when installing the wall panels."

Additionally, VanLandingham notes that the exterior design had to meet all of the technical requirements for acoustical control, energy efficiency, vision, control of exposure, thermal range and humidity control. "All of these forces could have led to a design that stacked one rectangle atop the other with the heaviest at the bottom and lightest at the top-think of the classic layering and ordering of building facades," he says. "Instead, the team chose to 'defy the gravity' of classic design order and instead, incorporate an angular panel design that wraps the other façade materials in a variety of arrangements. The detailing of the façade ensured that the metal panel always meets the adjacent materials in deliberate and coordinated ways."

"Strenuous preplanning, including a 3-D laser scan of the entire exterior and achieving Air Barrier Association of America certification, was necessary to accurately map out the location of each panel before installation and execute the project efficiently without any leaks," Staley adds.

Shriners Hospital for Children, St. Louis
2015 Keystone Award for Project of the Year from the Associated General Contractors of Missouri
Architect: Christner Inc., St. Louis
Construction manager: S.M. Wilson & Co., St. Louis
Building enclosure consultant: Heitmann and Associates Inc., Chesterfield, Mo.
Enclosure contractor/installer: IWR Building Systems, St. Louis
Glazing contractor: Missouri Valley Glass, Saint Charles, Mo.
Fabricator: Universe Corp., Bridgeton, Mo.,
Aluminum composite material: ALPOLIC-Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va.,
Curtainwall: EFCO Corp., Monett, Mo.,