Renovation-related Challenges: Working Within the Box

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February 22, 2022



By Adam Posorske

The new Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Maternity Tower centralizes all inpatient childbirth and newborn care offered at three Indiana University Health hospitals. Riley now houses the largest number of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) beds in Indiana and is among the largest in the country.

Families who had previously visited the Riley Hospital for Children might not recognize the healthcare provider’s newly renovated tower, phase three of a five-phase project to expand and modernize health services for mothers and their newborn babies.

BSA LifeStructures spearheaded the design of the five-story tower as the campus continued operating 24/7 to serve patients and families. BSA partnered with construction firm Messer Construction on the project, which opened in November 2021.

When visitors enter the first-floor lobby, they are surrounded by bright, naturally lit, and modernized spaces, public and more private waiting areas, open spaces, and a grand view of the original front façade of Riley Hospital for Children adorns one wall of the atrium. Two round, all-glass elevators greet visitors, inviting them to see all the way up the building. Updating the atrium meant bringing it up to code in all aspects, which meant adding a complex smoke evacuation system for 202,800 cubic feet per minute (CFM) designed to meet the requirements without sacrificing the grand feel of the space.

BSA’s engineering team’s design consisted of an entirely new mechanical/electrical/plumbing infrastructure for the new patient tower. BSA engineers embraced the renovation-related challenge of working from within the box on the renovation rather than having the luxury of coordinating with an architect as with new construction.

BSA designers were tasked with keeping electrical equipment operational as the renovation ensued. The equipment also feeds other critical operations in the medical campus’s kitchen, radiology, and phases two and four. The process of bringing the systems into operation was phased to prevent any overloads that could impact service to other areas on campus. Tight spaces in which to locate and add necessary systems and equipment added complexity to the project, as did the use of temporary electrical panels to transfer loads to the new electrical switchgear.

This project replaced the entire HVAC infrastructure, consisting of eight custom air handling units totaling 334,000 CFM (cubic feet per minute), five tethered together via plenums to allow for redundancy. Each has very custom designs that allow the units to fit precisely beneath existing utilities, including an oxygen line that serves the entire campus. The air handling unit’s system design also includes a waterside economizer sequence with the addition of a heat recovery chiller.

Designing a comprehensive, cohesive medical tower that meets the needs of staff, patients, and families for years to come in the heart of downtown Indianapolis was BSA’s mission. The new Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Maternity Tower achieves Indiana University Health’s goal of improving the health of its patients and community through innovation and excellence in care, education, research, and service.

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