Photos: Courtesy TBG Partners
Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas has been awarded LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the first hospital in the world to achieve such status. The 470,000-square-foot hospital opened in June 2007 on 32 acres that was once part of the former Mueller Municipal Airport, which has become one of the largest redevelopment efforts in the City of Austin’s history.
Sustainable elements such as abundant natural light, renewable building materials and an on-site power plant were all incorporated in the hospital’s site plan, but the project’s most important design goal was to provide a playful healing environment for children. A three-acre, multi-level healing garden is a highlight of the hospital. Articulated by passive and active spaces, it includes a multimedia movie plaza, labyrinth, human sundial, butterfly garden, floating stone fountain and reflecting pond.
Another notable feature within the hospital’s central courtyard is a three-story water way, which cascades down a granite wall into a serpentine stream, then flows over a rock waterfall into a reflecting pool. Native and adaptive plants were implemented throughout these courtyards, which not only conserve water but help provide clean, oxygenated air for air-handling units on each of the hospital’s four floors.
“We designed various courtyard environments to reflect the biodiversity of Central Texas by incorporating six ecoregions, each corresponding to a distinct area of the hospital’s 46-county service region,” said Brian Ott, principal at TBG Partners, the project’s landscape architect. “This helps connect patients and family members with the familiar environments they grew up around. Since the installments, Dell Children's has received widespread acclaim for combining cutting-edge medical technology with art and green building design to create a cohesive healing environment.”
Inside the hospital, windows of varying shapes, sizes and color line almost every wall, providing daylight to 80 percent of the facility and to patients and staff located within 32 feet of an exterior wall. Outside the hospital, a 4.3-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant – built and owned by Austin Energy – produces 100 percent of the hospital’s electricity, heating and cooling. Other cooling features that contribute to the hospital’s energy efficiency include reflective roofing and surface pavements, and an under-floor air distribution system that requires less power to operate than a traditional ceiling system.
Sustainable and indigenous building materials – such as white Texas limestone, concrete with high ash content, recycled glass and rapidly-renewable cork – were used throughout the hospital’s exterior façade, flooring and walls. In addition, the parking lots and garages were constructed with 47,000 tons of recycled materials from the former airport’s runway.
Members of the project team include Seton Network Facilities as the developer, White Construction as the general contractor, Karlsberger as the architect, TBG Partners as the landscape architect, and Bury + Partners, CCRD and Datum Engineering as the engineers.
Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas was named the “Overall Winner” in the Austin Business Journal’s annual Best Real Estate Awards contest. The hospital opened on June 30, 2007, as the newest member of the Seton Family of Hospitals. This $200 million, “high tech, high touch” facility spans nearly one-half million square feet, three times as big as Children's Hospital of Austin. That additional space supports increased capacity in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department, a comprehensive Pediatric Trauma program, a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center and a host of other capabilities.