Delaware Hospital Expansion Uses Innovative Prefab Technologies

Featuring a five-story atrium lit by natural sunlight at its entrance, the expansion of the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware incorporates significant amounts of prefabricated modules and materials into its construction. Project executive and prefabrication manager for Swedish builder Skansa USA, Marty Corrado, hired Rob Whartnaby as foreman and superintendent to build 144 pie-shaped rooms and bathrooms at a warehouse, using prefab technology that has rarely been used on hospitals and high-end commercial buildings, from which they would be shipped and installed on-site.

“It’s very innovative,” said Whartnaby, in an interview with Architectural Record. “We’re relearning the trade. It’s definitely good for the unions. It’s good for the customer . . . because you’re getting the building done faster. And there’s a big safety factor. On a wet day like this, we have a very controlled environment. Nobody’s going to fall over six feet on this job.”

“This is a radical departure,” said Corrado. Pipes and ducts are built into “one big box” that is linked to  headwalls, which are then pre-approved by Underwriters Laboratories prior to installation. Each box is then lifted and hung in the building. While the project is not saving significant amounts of money by using prefab technologies, the reduction in construction-related injuries is notable. “We’re still using the same amount of material,” says Corrado. “We’re fairly confident that we are using less labor, but subcontractors are still reluctant to bid less on prefab commercial jobs. The practice is that new.”

Expected to open in 2014, the expansion features outdoor views from all patient rooms, which are private, single-bed areas, each with two televisions, shower, refrigerator, and closet space. Each unit has a playroom, serenity room, laundry facilities, overnight sleeping areas for residents, conference room. There are 24-bed patient care communities with three eight-patient neighborhoods, along with multiple serenity gardens, a Discovery Zone for children, and 188 underground parking spaces.


 


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