NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Foundation for Change

Construction Work Strengthens Hospital Infrastructure

Side view of the Clinical Center with a model showing the proposed, modern brick and glass addition
Conceptual rendering of the 8-story surgery addition to the Clinical Center from the northwest view from Center Dr. and the Old Georgetown Rd. entrance

Orange cones, new traffic patterns and heavy equipment are circling the northwest corner of the Clinical Center this winter. 

The Office of Research Facilities (ORF) has started work on three new projects: installation of new electrical duct banks and relocation of critical infrastructure, addition of a new utility vault and construction of a new parking garage. The duct bank and utility vault will support equipment essential to hospital operations, while the new parking garage will relocate almost 800 spaces from the parking garage below the Bldg. 10 Ambulatory Care Research Facility (ACRF).  

What’s Happening Now

The walkways and pediatric play area are making way for some new developments. Adjacent to the hospital’s west laboratory wing, crews are working on electrical duct banks to bring in power to the hospital. Duct banks are conduits that provide pathways and protection for electrical wiring. Usually installed underground, they protect power cables from damage and consolidate wiring, which can streamline future construction work. 

Site preparation is also underway for construction of a new utility vault and patient parking garage.  

The new utility vault will replace aging electrical equipment. It will be a hardened concrete structure designed for blast resistance, which will reduce the threat risk to this critical lifeline for the hospital. Once completed, the vault will host electrical capacity and emergency generators capable of powering the entire Bldg. 10 research complex. It will also be the new home of the clinical data center and ICU generators as well as carbon dioxide storage tanks currently hosted elsewhere on campus.

Rendering of a new parking garage
Conceptual rendering of a new parking garage expected to be completed by spring 2022

The new parking garage will allow NIH to shift some parking out of the ACRF parking. The ACRF, located in the middle of the hospital, was added to the Clinical Center in 1982 and houses an underground parking garage under the clinics and care areas. In the almost 40 years since it opened, the garage has developed serious structural deficiencies. 

Restoring the garage is expensive, as work crews have to minimize the impact on hospital patients using the floors above. Vibrations from jackhammers and heavy equipment can affect surgeries and other sensitive procedures during the day and keep patients awake at night. 

The new garage will be located to the west of the hospital, next to the new utility vault, and will connect to the Clinical Center by a pedestrian tunnel to keep visitors safe and avoid traffic. The walkway will provide a safe and weather-protected crossing under Convent Dr. for people walking between the hospital and the new parking garage, the historic convent (Bldg. 60) and the Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge to the west. Planners expect construction completion by spring 2022. 

ORF anticipates using the new garage as a staging area during construction of an addition to the hospital. When the addition is complete, some of the parking in the ACRF garage under the Clinical Center will shift into the new garage.

And what would happen to the new space available under the hospital? ORF is studying options. The repurposed space could accommodate: 

  •  A consolidated freezer farm for biospecimens
  • A new location for high-fidelity imaging equipment that would leverage the stable, vibration-resistant, below-grade area, and/or
  • Relocating scientific and administrative supplies from other parts of the Clinical Center, freeing up space in a hospital currently filled to capacity.

Future Developments

As hospital infrastructure improves, there is a more ambitious long-term effort to address the needs of the Clinical Center. 

Green and yellow map shows the proposed new garage and walkways off of Convent Drive.
Map shows proposed expanded parking and pedestrian walkways that will serve the Clinical Center.

Plans are in development to add an 8-story addition to the Clinical Center that will house the departments of perioperative medicine (surgery), interventional radiology, radiology and imaging sciences and laboratory medicine. These departments involve some of the most advanced and technology-dependent programs supporting NIH research.

The addition would be located next to the hospital’s west laboratory wing between the Clinical Center, Convent Dr. and Center Dr. The new wing would include a below-grade Cardiovascular Intervention Program suite and, once construction is complete, existing NCI research labs would move to the new addition.

Design has begun for the new space, but there is a key factor still missing—construction funding. Members of Congress have been briefed on the project, but they haven’t yet allocated enough money to support it. 

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)