Craftsmen work to transform behavioral healthcare
Constructing a brand new, 155,000-square-foot hospital dedicated to state-of-the-art behavioral health care is an opportunity most craftspeople never encounter. So when Sheppard Pratt launched plans to build its Behavioral Health Facility in Elkridge, more than 3,000 construction professionals dug into the challenge of executing an extraordinary design.
“This building has a lot of very modern and wonderful features,” said Tyler Tate, President of Lewis Contractors, the construction manager-at-risk on the project. “The project incorporated the very cutting edge of behavioral health design and construction. All the best practices that are being utilized across the country, including innovative practices within the Sheppard Pratt system, informed the construction of this purpose-built hospital.”
That design created high standards and daunting tasks for every trade on the project.
To support outpatient facilities, 85 inpatient beds, an emergency room, commercial kitchen, gymnasium, medical offices and all the other components of the facility’s three, interconnected, multi-story buildings, craftsmen from DEL Electric completed a massive installation. It included two tandem 5000 BGE services, two 500-kilowatt generators, complex security and fire alarm systems, and more than 1.68 million linear feet of electrical wiring and cabling. In the midst of a large and demanding project, DEL personnel also successfully value engineered the use of underground conduits between buildings and leveraged BIM modeling to install electrical conduits before equipment arrived in order to meet installation schedules.
To complete the facility’s mechanical systems, EMJAY Engineering & Construction also faced a hefty list of installations to complete – 10 rooftop units, 45 ductless split AC units, 36 DOAS units, 93 smoke and fire dampers, 2000 plumbing and HVAC valves, 500 piping specialties, 600 chilled beams, two commercial kitchens, an underground fuel system with a 10,000-gallon main tank, and a building automation system that included 300 state-of-the-art, six-way control values to deliver hydronic heating and cooling.
As work began on interior framing and finishes, HDL Construction tackled a design that included complex angles that required precision framing. It also featured a variety of materials – including especially robust finishes, high-end products and framing products that were heavier than normal – that required extensive experience to achieve a high-quality finish. There were curved bulkheads in the main lobby, structural columns that would receive curved architectural finishes, curved drywall partitions to mimic the curve in curtain glass walls, and ceilings that varied from hard surfaces to a variety of acoustical elements, often installed in a circular design or abutting curved or angled walls.
Meanwhile, craftsmen from Corridor Flooring Associates began the complex and exacting process of installing the facility’s floors. The design called for multiple types of flooring, complementary-colored patterning in some areas and welded, resilient flooring materials in public spaces. Craftsmen had to thermo-fuse separate pieces of resilient, sheet vinyl flooring together at seams or joints to create a seamless floor. Installers precisely cut each seam to avoid creating a gap that was too large, small, shallow or deep which would compromise the weld. Proper installation also hinged on carefully controlling the temperature of tools and the speed at which they moved across the flooring.
Outside in the facility’s four courtyards and at the masonry walls throughout the structure, craftsmen from Henry J. Knott Masonry executed an equally sophisticated design. Sheppard Pratt’s Mandala Philosophy of care ensures that patients have ready access to natural light and the natural world. Consequently, the owner and project team aimed to create courtyards that resembled Zen gardens where patients, caregivers and visitors could relax. To create those spaces, craftsmen from Henry J. Knott precisely installed a mix of modular brick, CMU and cast stone, including some especially large pieces that required special rigging to place. The design also included field stone from two different quarries which craftsmen hand trimmed and field blended to create a pleasing installation.
The overall result was a beautiful, leading-edge hospital “that transforms the state of behavioral healthcare in Howard County,” Tate said. “One of the spaces that we are proudest of is the patient rooms themselves. Here you have a space devoted to healing and designed to be part of the treatment process. You walk into that space and you feel warmth, peace and potential for healing, something that is sometimes hard to achieve in typical construction.”