OKC VeloCity | OU Medical Center making history with new patient bed tower

OU Medical Center making history with new patient bed tower

By Molly Fleming / Development / September 12, 2019

Travelers heading south on Interstate 235 are likely starting to notice another building in their eye sight as they look over at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

One of the largest hospital expansion projects in the nation and the largest hospital expansion project in Oklahoma history, the OU Medicine patient bed tower, is coming into the skyline. Construction started in November 2017 and the $364 million, 456,000-square-foot tower is slated to be finished in 2020.

The large building will have a positive impact on the economy. Besides the construction jobs helping to make the dream a reality, OU Medicine President and CEO Chuck Spicer said OU Medicine has added 600 employees in the last couple years. After 2020 starts, another 100 full-time staff members will make it on the payroll. Spicer said they’re not all doctors, but they do make above the area’s average salary. He said these new jobs in the city will have a positive economic impact on the community with people buying homes, spending money at local stores, or taking advantage of the many entertainment options such as live music or professional sports.

The building was designed by Perkins + Will, which is the same firm that developed the land use plan for the Innovation District. P+W used Oklahoma’s topography as its inspiration, so the building was designed in the shape of a butte. P+W worked with Oklahoma City-based ZFI Engineering on the structural engineering. The Dallas office of the Turner Construction Co. is overseeing the build.

This is the first ground-up hospital construction project for OU Medical Center since 1975, though more recently there have been building renovations and academic, clinic and outpatient construction projects. The new nine-floor tower (eight floors above ground) will have 144 patient beds and 32 operating rooms.

Construction is moving quickly. Concrete will be poured soon on the eighth floor with a topping-out ceremony scheduled being scheduled for November. People can watch the daily progress via a live webcam.

Spicer said the patient tower was first talked about in 2009.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type project,” he said.

The space was projected to be needed as the Stephenson Cancer Center gained notoriety. In 2018, Stephenson was named as the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Oklahoma.

OU Medicine is also the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the state.

“If we run out of beds, we have to send people to Dallas,” said Spicer. “So the growth we have is to keep more people here. It’s not to take away business from other hospitals in the city.”

The tower’s rooms will be used by Stephenson Cancer Center patients, patients requiring complex surgeries, trauma-related services and more. The new operating rooms are larger than any other operating rooms on the campus, Spicer said. The rooms will have the latest in medical robotics equipment.

“The largest operating rooms we have now are smaller than the operating rooms that are going in this tower,” he said.

The patient rooms are bigger than what is currently on campus as well, he said. The new rooms will have space for family and visitors as well as doctors and nurses. The visitor area will be closer to the windows, where people can see the skyline or the capitol.

“The family space is critical,” Spicer said. “We have people coming here during some of the worst and most traumatic moments of their lives. We had families that are here help us tweak the design so it is truly accommodating to their needs.”

When completed, the building will be the largest hospital campus building in the state. With such a large space and so many systems to connect, the structural components are expansive.

Building stats:

  • 3,965,339 feet of electrical wire or 751 miles.
  • More than 15 miles of metal studs in the podium (floors 1-3) exterior walls.
  • You could cover a football field 2.1 times with the sheathing that covers the podium exterior.
  • There are over 120,000 mechanical fasteners that hold the exterior wall together.
  • The building has 1,300 doors. If these doors were laid end to end, they would stretch almost 2 miles.
  • Almost half an acre of terrazzo floor or 23,000 square feet.
  • More than 550,000 square feet of flooring, which is enough to cover almost 10 football fields.
  • There will be over 100,000 square feet of tile installed in this building.
  • There are enough corner guards that if they were stacked on top of each other, they would reach from the ground to the empire state building at least 10 times.
  • It is the largest/heaviest cantilevered structure with usable floor space in Oklahoma.
  • The exterior envelope assembly utilizes material designed and produced in six different countries: the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Italy, Bulgaria and Germany.
  • The building has 71,286 square feet of concrete, which is equivalent to 237 Boeing 747s.
  • It is heavier than all the structural steel used in the Empire State Building, with 3,599 tons of foundation and structural elements used to reinforce the building.



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