|Project's Sixth Year|
CRC Now Enclosed in Brick, Due for Occupancy in 2004
By Rich McManus
Photos by Ernie Branson
On the Front Page...
A building is big when you can't see it in one glance, but must crane your neck to take it all in. The
new Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, begun in 1997 and recently enclosed in pink brick,
is a big building. And a complicated one. Now about 80 percent finished, with construction due to
conclude in March 2004 and occupancy to commence a month later, the project is at peak
employment with respect to trades; some 600-700 workers are onsite daily, said Yong-Duk Chyun,
project director for the Office of Research Services. "The exterior masonry is all done, all the
windows are in and the interior is advancing rapidly," he said.
Project Director Yong-Duk Chyun at CRC's front entrance.|
Composed of two broad, parallel "bars" the North Bar and the South
Bar connected in the middle by a 9-story Science Court, the CRC hosts a program that
has shrunk somewhat from its original conception as a 250-bed hospital with 100 day stations (by
design, inpatient beds and day stations are interchangeable) to a 240-bed facility with 90 day
stations, owing to budget concerns. And the initially elaborate Science Court plan, which featured a
dramatic "double helix" staircase, has also yielded to budget pressure. But those changes were
absorbed relatively easily (if not with any pleasure) due to the malleable nature of the building's
design, Chyun noted.
"We made those changes with a great deal of reluctance," he said, "but the beauty of the facility is that it is very flexible."
The North Bar (the part closest to the Children's Inn) is 6 stories high (3 occupied levels and 3
interstitial levels, which host mechanical systems such as air handling and telecommunications) and
will contain solely clinic space. Consultants are already planning for the interior of this segment,
including furniture and equipment. The clinical programs that will occupy the North Bar have long
known where their space would be. The broader South Bar (the part closest to old Bldg. 10) is
taller, at 8 stories (4 occupied levels and 4 interstitial levels), and contains two clinic blocks, directly parallel to the North Bar's clinic blocks, as well as laboratory blocks at the extreme east and west ends (see drawing for occupancy information). The glass-enclosed Science Court will be the last
segment completed next year.
A massive column of steel scaffolding fills the 9-story Science Court as workers install its roof.||
"The builder should start turning [completed] blocks over to us by this fall," Chyun said. He adds,
"Unlike the Clinical Center, space within the CRC is assigned to programs rather than to institutes."
As the snows of February were receding, the construction trailers that had long occupied the
northern lip of the construction site were due for removal (the trailers used to be emblazoned with
the name of original construction manager McCarthy Bros., which ceded the job to Centex in the
spring of 2001 following contractual difficulties). And Chyun was preparing to build an underground
stormwater management facility for the CRC at a site near the corner of Rockville Pike and Cedar
Lane. This 6-month project must be complete before the CRC can open, he said.
Air vents on an interstitial level poke through floor into ceilings of rooms below, and can be moved along a slot.
Chyun was also busy giving tours of the new facility; visitors from NIH and other major medical
centers, as well as construction authorities, have queued up to see for themselves the building's
special features (see sidebar).
The CRC was originally due for completion at the end of 2001, then adjusted to 2002, but
encountered a sea change in the economic climate as the local construction market went from cool
to red hot during 1999-2001, said Chyun. In a hot market, big, complicated, risky projects such as
the CRC don't appeal to builders nearly as much as smaller, simpler jobs, he explained; bidders
simply weren't interested in the CRC "They'd rather do easier, quicker work." There were
times when NIH literally had to decide whether to keep going or put the project on hold, he related,
but NIH leadership always pressed forward. Despite slowdowns, the project will still be finished
faster than if it were done in a conventional "design-bid-build" format, Chyun said. The project is
only 15 months past the adjusted estimate of its completion date.
As for the "old Bldg. 10," a revitalization program is under review. "NIH and HHS leadership are
carrying out discussions concerning various options for the programmatic and technical solutions for
the research programs currently occupying the old hospital building," said ORS Director Steve
A Peek Inside the New CRC
A 3-inch seam, or construction joint, is all that separates the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research
Center from the ACRF. The joint marries the two structures all the way up to the 14th floor, in a
building segment called the "mask," which allows passage from old hospital to new. Walk through a
gray metal door in the elevator lobby on the first floor of the ACRF's north side, and suddenly you
are within cavernous new space somewhat reminiscent of the Visitor Information Center in Bldg.
10 a large, open atrium lit by skylights and soon to be decorated in a style similar to the
South Entry of Bldg. 10. The floor level of the atrium is at the current P1 garage level, which will
become the main patient parking area once the CRC opens.
"It's going to be a very nice space," said Yong-Duk Chyun, CRC project director. "[Clinical Center
director] Dr. John Gallin identified the need for a welcoming space for patients and visitors as they
arrive in the garage. He is very excited about it."
The open, skylit atrium being worked on above will eventually offer a welcome to patients arriving at the CRC from the P1 parking level, which will be reserved for patients.
A bank of six new elevators adjacent to this reception area will whisk passengers from any floor in
the ACRF to the new CRC, which will have a total of 32 elevators.
Proceeding past the reception area, one enters the building's most dramatic feature, a 9-story
Science Court enclosed on the east and west sides by glass. At the moment, it is a warren of
scaffolding as workers put the ceiling in, and birds fly from bar to bar, but it will eventually become
a light-filled space flanked by stores on its first floor (requests for proposals for the retail space are
already being prepared), and by airy walkways for 7 of its 9 levels. Two more sets of elevators, on
the north and south sides of the court, will speed passage within the building. Outdoors, on either
side of the Science Court, will be large courtyards to be planted with tall trees near the center, and
flowering trees nearer the hospital's first floor windows, to add a measure of visual privacy, Chyun
Some space within the CRC already has more of a "finished" look. Interior work is proceeding rapidly.
Just past the Science Court, as one walks north toward the front of the hospital, is another large,
2-story reception area, to be enclosed along its front by glass. Outside, a freestanding metal canopy
will protect vehicles approaching the CRC's front door. As with the South Entry, a huge revolving
door will offer access to the building.
The major occupants of the CRC's first floor will be the admissions department, pharmacy, a
rehabilitation medicine area and pediatric patient care units with an outdoor playground nearby.
Upstairs, some general themes govern how space is used, Chyun explained. Each floor of the
building's four patient-care "blocks" (totaling 14 floor plates) contains 24 patient room modules, 12
on each side of the central support areas. Patient rooms enjoy the window side of clinic blocks,
while support space is located internally. The patient room modules can be grouped into multiple
sub-areas of the patient care unit, based on the kind of care needed. On some floors, two or six
nursing stations might serve the whole unit, while on others such as the intensive care unit, eight
large nursing stations are designed to be proximal to every room.
Other Building Features
There are several sets of bridges at the CRC; two bridges, on the east and west sides on the fifth
floor level, connect the South Bar with old Bldg. 10. These are the longest bridges in the project,
and are simply unadorned passageways offering great views. (Pedestrians will soon recognize that
the views to the west are merely of housetops, while the views to the east are considerably more
vast; the land on which the CRC is built slopes downward more than 25 feet from west to east.)
The South Bar also connects with Bldg. 10 on floors 1 and 2.
A second set of shorter bridges connects each adjacent floor of the North and South Bars, again on
the east and west sides of the hospital. These bridges have widened midsections where people can
lounge and enjoy the views of the courtyard and beyond; Chyun labels it "respite space."
Other areas especially designed to encourage human interaction are the open stairwells where
patient care, or clinic, blocks meet laboratory blocks.
The interstitial levels between occupied floors are interesting because virtually everything in them
hangs from the ceiling, including the floor, which is made of a special lightweight concrete in all but
the rooms dedicated to telecommunications equipment, which requires a heavier floor. A penetrable
slot running the length of the floor of the interstitial level allows mechanics to move or service the
utilities serving the rooms below.
Down in the basement is the hospital's only sign of heavy industry. "There is only one real
'basement' level," Chyun explains. Because of the way the land slopes, there is a B3 basement level
on only one side of the CRC; the B2 level the main basement containing the major
mechanical systems is two stories tall, topped by a B1 interstitial level. The B2 level is
rimmed by a perimeter walkway, soon to be busy with the traffic of electric carts. Within the space
are huge chilled water and steam pipes, air handlers, valves and generators. NIH engineer Farhad
Memarzadeh had the brilliant idea of substituting turbine-powered generators for pressure-reducing
valves from the steam lines, Chyun said; the result is that the new building generates about 5
percent of its own electricity needs, potentially saving more than $170,000 annually in electricity
costs. A visiting engineer remarked, "This is truly one of a kind more of a power plant
than a building mechanical area."
The mechanical area on the B2 level contains an array of building systems, including an ingenious method of using steam turbines to generate a percentage of the CRC's electricity.
Other notable spaces include an entire third floor devoted to oncology (one room of which is
already complete it's a mockup for tradesmen that, once complete, will serve as the
standard for every other room of its kind in the CRC. "It allows the kinks to be worked out before
mass production starts," Chyun noted.); a floor devoted to patients with behavioral problems that
features no hallway corners (from which patients could potentially jump out and surprise caregivers)
and whose rooms have hardened ceilings (to thwart deliberate hangings), breakable curtain rods in
showers (same reason), and no lab gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc.) built into the walls; and a
chapel on the top floor of the North Bar lit by both skylights and a large, vertical window located
directly behind the altar. The chapel ceiling slants upward toward the front of the hospital, and large
conference areas abut the chapel on the east and west sides.
Because of budget concerns, some segments of the CRC are being built as "shell space," or
unfinished areas, Chyun said. However, scientific programs to fill these areas are currently being
Throughout all of the CRC, air will be brought in entirely from outdoors, with no recirculation,
making it the only hospital in the United States reliant on 100 percent "outside air." This is a more
expensive method than called for by code, which permits 60 percent recirculation of air in hospital
settings. Chyun says many hospitals overseas have adopted the "100 percent outside air" policy to
reduce the threat of accidental spread of unknown pathogens, and predicts it will eventually become
the standard in this country.
Interestingly, owing to concerns about air quality informed by wind testing, the CRC will include no
rooftop solaria, which were a feature of old Bldg. 10. Tests showed that gases exhausted through
rooftop vents might blow into such areas, putting people at risk.
Chyun also noted that once the CRC opens, the connections to the ACRF won't function on all
floors until some method of standardization can be found; at the moment, the connecting areas are
a haphazard collection of clinics, closets and corridors.
CRC Clinic Occupancy by Level
|Pediatric Care Patient Care Unit (PCU)|
North Pediatric Behavioral PCU
North Alcohol PCU
Surgical Oncology PCU
Hem/Onc Day Hospital
General Medicine PCU
Surgery PCU/Med-Surgical Day Hospital
Neurology PCU/Testing/Clinic & Sleep Lab
Adult Behavioral and Geriatric PCU
A bird's-eye view of the new Clinical Research Center clearly shows the south and north "bars."
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