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Unsung heroes: Two hurricanes couldn't stop this project team

Bronze Award: St. Lucie County’s population exploded to the point where the hospital needed lots more space.

June 19, 2019 |

Three 45,000-sf floors were added above the existing hospital, along with a new ED, ED observation unit, and PACU. Photos: Ben Tanner

One hurricane would test most project teams. But a Building Team led by construction manager Robins & Morton had to battle through both Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 to complete the 164,000-sf expansion of Tradition Medical Center, Port Saint Lucie, Fla.

Martin Health System had wisely built the original three-story hospital, which opened in 2013, with enough structural capacity for vertical expansion. In less than two years, St. Lucie County’s population had exploded to the point where the hospital needed lots more space.

Robins & Morton, HKS (architect), and TLC Engineering for Architecture (SE/MEP) used an owner-inspired hybrid IPD delivery model and Lean techniques to add three 45,000-sf floors and a penthouse directly above the neonatal intensive care unit and labor delivery department. They spent a year with the maternity and NICU nurses planning two perfect relocations of the babies—four moves in all—during construction.



Two horizontal additions provided room for a two-story emergency department, an 18-bed ED observation unit, a second-floor post-anesthesia care unit, a materials handling facility, and a 10,000-sf data center that the owner added to the original project scope. They also found ways to spend an extra $4 million on a new catheter lab.

To overcome labor shortages, the team used prefabricated headwalls and shower basins and built MEP racks, ductwork, medical gas piping, heat and hot water piping, and chilled water piping off site. These were formed into 20-foot runs ready for assembly and connection on site.

Incidentally, after securing the open structure ahead of Hurricane Matthew, several Robins & Morton staff stayed on at the hospital—on their own time—to safeguard patients and hospital staff. “They were unsung heroes,” said Matt Kelly, Director of Planning, Construction and Real Estate for Martin Health System.+


Building Team — Submitting firm Robins & Morton (CM), Owner Martin Health System, Owner’s representative CBRE, Architect HKS, SE/MEP engineer TLC Engineering for Architecture

General information — Cost $77 million, Size 164,000 sf, Construction time September 2015 to March 2018, Delivery method CM at risk


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