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COVID-19: Construction completed on first phase of Chicago's McCormick Place into Alternate Care Facility

Phase 1 construction on the first 500 beds was completed on Friday, April 3; 2,500 beds to follow.

April 04, 2020 |
The first 500 patient rooms at McCormick Place Convention Center.

The first 500 patient rooms at McCormick Place Convention Center. The 10X10-foot "rooms" have a cot, folding chair, lamp, and blanket, and a bowl containing a toothbrush, surgical masks, and earplugs.


Walsh Construction, one of the largest contractors in the city of Chicago and in the United States, is leading the temporary conversion of a portion of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) for novel coronavirus patients.

Construction on the first 500 beds was completed on April 3. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, 500 more beds (with 14 nursing stations) should be online this week and another 1,250 by April 20, with another 750 to follow. The facility will have the capacity to treat up to 3,000 low- to moderate-acuity patients across three of the convention center’s halls, where patients will be separated by level of care required.

In addition to patient rooms, the first phase has also seen installation of spaces for laundry machines, pharmacy services, medical supplies, housekeeping, and medical gas canister storage, according to the Chicago Tribune.


Walsh Construction at McCormick Place ACF conversionA Walsh Construction staff member views the first phase of the conversion of portion of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an alternate care facility for coronavirus patients. Photo: Press Pool



The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) in association with the United States Army Corps of Engineers is directing the conversion of McCormick Place into a facility focused on patient care, infection control, fire protection and life safety. The ACF is designed to relieve pressure on the hospital system by freeing up beds for more patients with severe COVID-19 cases in anticipation of the surge in positive COVID-19 diagnoses to come.

The temporary field hospital is expected to be complete by April 24, according to Walsh Construction. “We mobilized and began work immediately,” said Thomas Caplis, Vice President of Healthcare at Walsh Construction. “Walsh Construction is proud to support these extraordinary efforts of MPEA and Army Corps of Engineers that will offer essential care to our Chicago neighbors and much needed assistance to our vital healthcare system.”

Chicago-based Walsh Construction has a successful history of working directly with USACE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to renovate and construct facilities and infrastructure on a fast-track basis. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Walsh has assisted healthcare institutions with trailers, tents, cargo boxes, negative pressure rooms, and establishing other temporary measures on an as-needed basis.



Walsh Construction is the fifth largest healthcare contractor in the United States, providing construction services and delivering healing environments across North America. The Acute Care Facility at McCormick Place adds to its list of patient-first projects that include new hospitals, emergency departments, critical care units, and outpatient services.

Walsh Construction is part of The Walsh Group, a 122-year-old company providing design, build, finance and activation services across the building, transportation and water markets. The Walsh Group operates as Walsh Construction, Archer Western and Walsh Canada throughout 20 regional offices.

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