|Opening in June
Safra Lodge Stirs Passionate Commitment
It's rare for professionals involved in a construction project
to speak of passion, but that is the word everyone involved with
the Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge uses when they talk about the
building. Jan Weymouth, executive director of the lodge, says the
entire group had the same "passionate goal to get this built. We
all knew this was a very special place."
||The Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge
opens on June 1, and will be officially dedicated during a
ceremony on Thursday, May 26.
The 26,500-square-foot, 34-room building that opens June 1 was
conceived to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of adult Clinical
Center patients and their families. Converting the concept into
a comfortable home-away-from-home presented a number of challenges
for the project team. Project Officer Shah Saleh of the Office
of Research Facilities was assigned in 1999 to manage design and
construction. The lodge had to meet an array of safety, security
and environmental requirements, coordinate its schedule with the
CRC opening, and be easy and cost-effective to maintain and operate.
Safra Lodge Opens for Tours
The Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge at NIH, conceived as a
house of refuge for loved ones of patients receiving care
at the Clinical Center, will open on June 1.
NIH'ers who would like a tour of the new lodge and its gardens
may visit Tuesday, May 31, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The
lodge is located a short walk west of the CRC. "The May 31
tour is the only chance for the general NIH public to see
the lodge," said Jan Weymouth, executive director. "Once
it is open for guests, general tours will not be available,
to protect the privacy and safety of registered guests."
Dedication and opening ceremonies will take place May 26.
Because of space limitations, attendance is by invitation
Construction on the lodge began in 2003. A $4.5 million
donation to NIH from the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation
allowed building to begin, along with the design and creation
of a garden. Other contributors include the Merck Co. Foundation,
the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, the
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and many more corporations,
foundations and individuals.
For more information on the lodge, call (301) 496-6500 or
The challenges began with design. The lodge needed not only to
create a sense of warm hospitality, but also needed to fit into
the more institutional look of most campus buildings. It needed
to allow patients plenty of privacy, but give them places where
they could choose to socialize. Early members of the project group
saw presentations by eight architectural firms before selecting
a collaborative proposal from LSY Architects and Weinstein Associates.
They envisioned the lodge as more of a large home than an apartment
"We all worked together as a team, and as a result, everyone involved
is happy with the final product," says Saleh. "We all have reason
to be very proud of our work."
The project teams met regularly to resolve challenges that arose
in the course of construction, including heavy rains that saturated
the worksite, scheduling conflicts with neighboring construction
projects, and a change to custom designs for all interior and exterior
light fixtures 3 months into the construction process, which required
re-evaluation of the electrical system. Construction of a tunnel
to bring campus utilities to the project site was another challenge.
Through close cooperation of partnering group members and Dan Moses
in the Utilities Operations Branch, ORF, the tunnel extension brought
utilities to the lodge within days of the building being ready
to accept them, without interrupting power to existing buildings,
and without interference in nearby projects such as the CRC and
the perimeter fence.
"There was an emotional commitment to this project, beyond the
feeling of another day at NIH," says Weymouth.
To complete the transformation of the lodge into a home, interior
designers had to attend to far more detail in the furnishings than
is typical in an NIH office or lab building. Many of the furnishings
were custom produced by multiple vendors. Inez Austin, the lodge
decorator, said, "This is the most positive effort I've been involved
with. The personal attachment everyone formed for the project caused
them all to work well beyond what was technically required."
Creation of a "healing garden" at the lodge is a separate project
endowed by the Safra family and is scheduled for completion in
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