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Project Overview

  • Project Name: Valley View Hospital Phase 6, Administrative and Cancer Center
  • Location: Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • Total floor area: 145,000 square feet
  • Number of floors: 5 (plus the mechanical penthouse)
  • Construction cost: $65 million
  • Groundbreaking date: Oct. 13, 2010
  • Opening date: Sept. 3, 2012

Project team

  • Owner: Valley View Hospital Association
  • Architect, Interior Designer and Structural Engineer: HFR Design Inc.
  • Environmental Consulting: H-P Geotech and Tetra Tech
  • General Contractor: JE Dunn Construction
  • Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineering: I.C. Thomasson Associates Inc.
  • Landscaping: Shannon Murphy Landscape Architects

With the recent completion of a five-story structure housing a cancer center, medical offices and administrative services — the final phase of a decade-long master plan — Valley View Hospital, Glenwood Springs, Colo., has been replaced a section at a time on its original site.

In 2000, the hospital began meeting with HFR Design Inc., Brentwood, Tenn., to discuss replacing the existing facility, originally built in 1954. "We looked for other sites and, in short, there were none," says Sam DiCarlo, AIA, senior vice president, HFR Design.

Locations large enough for a replacement hospital were outside the project budget. Deciding to bloom, in essence, where they were planted, the hospital worked with HFR Design on a six-phase plan that began with the construction of a new patient tower. When the new tower was completed, the hospital had the building space necessary to be able to demolish part of the existing facility. "Then it became demo, build, demo, build until we actually replaced the hospital in place," DiCarlo says.

Destination of choice

The same year Valley View Hospital started working on the replacement plan, they became affiliated with Planetree, a Derby, Conn.-based nonprofit research, education and advocacy group focused on patient-centered care.

Planetree fit nicely into the hospital's tradition of healing. "As people at the hospital note, 'We were Planetree before we were Planetree,'" says Wendy Tennis, Planetree coordinator, Valley View Hospital. "We were a small resort town where we knew everybody. The people we were serving who were actually in our hospital beds were family members. They were our neighbors. They were the people who pack our groceries. We've been serving these folks with that focus on how you would want your family member to be treated for a long time. So, when we became a Planetree hospital in 2000, it just made sense for us."

There are 10 stated components to the Planetree approach to patient care. One of these is: "The physical environment is vital to healing and well-being." The facility replacement project was an opportunity to create an environment in keeping with the hospital's philosophy of care.

"Patient care is Valley View Hospital's No. 1 priority. The Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care unites with the hospital's mission to be the leader for excellence in personalized care and healing," says Gary Brewer, CEO. "The hospital's renovations were built to respect patient privacy and to enable patients to heal more quickly in an environment that values them and their families. This commitment aligns with our vision to be the destination of choice for all who aspire to heal and be healed."

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Health hotel

According to DiCarlo, the hospital wanted the facility to appear inviting and comfortable, like a mountain retreat. "We called it a 'health hotel,'" he says. "That's the image they were looking for."

The lodge-inspired design features an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) that includes darker sections crafted to resemble wooden beams. "We created that look without necessarily using wood in a lot of places," DiCarlo explains. The building design is anchored by natural stone from the local area.

This stone is used also in the building's interior design, along with wood veneer, wood laminate, wood trim and, in the new cancer center, hardwood floors. A palette of warm, earthy tones — greens, blues and browns — and works by local artists complement the natural and natural-looking materials. Fireplaces provide ambience in lobbies, waiting areas and even some patient rooms. As a safety measure, fireplaces installed in patient rooms feature holographic flames.

Compassionate design

Large windows and skylights above the nurse stations fill the patient units with natural light. Carpeted corridors and soft lighting help to create a calm and quiet atmosphere. The patient floors include family rooms where visitors can gather outside the patient room, as well as kitchens where they can prepare or share a meal. Convertible sleep sofas in the patient rooms allow family members to spend the night. "We provide linens and really encourage family members to be at the bedside 24/7, because that's important to the patient," says Tennis.

The design of the newly constructed cancer center follows the same Planetree principles as earlier phases of the replacement hospital project. The infusion area features a large bank of curved windows that overlook a healing garden. Sliding doors between each treatment space allow chemotherapy patients to choose the degree of privacy or social interaction they prefer; translucent acrylic inserts allow light to penetrate the custom-built doors. Patients who prefer complete privacy can utilize one of four private infusion rooms, each of which has its own window with a view.

The walls of the corridor leading to the linear accelerator vault are lined with artwork. The vault itself has wood paneling and a coffered ceiling with backlit panels that display images of the sky. "We tried to take as much focus off the equipment as possible," says Alecia Bandstra, NCIDQ, interior designer, HFR Design.

Rooms for massage, yoga and other integrative therapies are also included in the cancer center, to enhance patients' peace of mind.

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A place of healing

Glenwood Springs has long been a place of healing, Tennis notes. Local natural springs and underground steam caves have been used for curative purposes since before the town was founded; the Native American Ute tribe called the area "Yampah," or "big medicine."

"We want to continue that, historically," Tennis says. "[The hospital] is a place of health care and medicine, but it's all about healing."

Amy Eagle is a freelance writer based in Homewood, Ill., who specializes in health care-related topics. She is a regular contributor to Health Facilities Management.

Sidebar - Durability and a natural look provide material support

Valley View Hospital's replacement facility is designed to be comfortable and beautiful, and durable enough to stay that way. "We did not want this to look like a hospital at all, but we needed it to function like a hospital," says Alecia Bandstra, NCIDQ, interior designer, HFR Design. All materials had to meet the building code and maintenance requirements of a major health care institution without looking institutional.

In the lobby, steel columns are trimmed in wood to resemble the massive timbers of a mountain lodge. For the design and construction of a health care facility, "you want to use steel and concrete," says Sam DiCarlo, AIA, senior vice president, HFR Design. "But we didn't want it to look like steel and concrete, so we covered it with materials that were more in tune with the hotel or lodge look. We found that we could get many of the components of the lodge or hotel into the design."

Cleanability was another important factor in specifying materials. Bandstra says the designers spent a significant amount of time researching "finishes that do not look like they belong in a sterile environment," but are highly cleanable. Solid-surface countertops used throughout the cancer center have the look of granite; they are also nonporous and bacteria-resistant.

Acoustics were considered in the selection of materials for the interior design, as well. The cancer center lobby features a two-story atrium accented with hardwood floors. Future plans for this space call for the addition of a cafeteria on the second floor of the lobby, overlooking the atrium. To help prevent noise from propagating in this area, the designers located an acoustic tile they could curve along the lobby's vaulted barrel ceiling. "With very small seams, it doesn't even look like it's an acoustic tile," says Bandstra.

Sidebar - Communication helps to deal with surprises

Replacing Valley View Hospital in place required thorough planning, careful construction and good communication among the hospital, architecture firm HFR Design Inc. and general contractor JE Dunn Construction.

The project was based on an intricate, multiphase plan that involved coordinating ongoing hospital operations with new construction and the gradual demolition of the existing facility.

To rebuild the hospital a piece at a time, "you had to work at break points of the structure," explains Sam DiCarlo, AIA, senior vice president, HFR Design. "We found quite a few surprises as we got into it." On-site corrections and revisions were necessary when the building and building plans didn't exactly match up. The builders installed extra supports as needed to ensure the stability of the structure at all times.

Project planners and builders also worked closely with hospital infection control professionals to uphold a safe environment for patients. Complete drywall separations, suction fans and filters were employed to maintain air quality during construction.

According to DiCarlo, the project's core team, including the hospital's chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief nursing officer and director of facilities, along with representatives of HFR Design and JE Dunn Construction, meet monthly to discuss facility design and construction issues. "We talk about our ideas and our wants and our wishes and needs, and then we figure out what we can do best," he says.

During the course of the replacement hospital project, they adjusted the master plan to accommodate additional hospital services and future growth requirements, but were able to hew closely to the established strategy. As noted in a phasing update of the project issued in 2007, "the hospital has maintained the original set course with few supplemental changes."

"We planned six phases up front. We knew where everything would have to go. [The plan] proved to be just amazingly accurate, and just showed what a team could do," DiCarlo says.


Principal Design Materials s Carpet: Karastan, Masland Contract and Mohawk Carpet Ceiling: Armstrong World Industries Inc., Sky Factory (SkyCeilings) and USG Corp. Customized rubber base: Johnsonite Door hardware: Sargent Manufacturing Co. Doors: Construction Specialties Inc. Flooring: Anderson Hardwood Floors (hardwood) and Teknoflor (sheet vinyl) Glass: Pella Corp. Lighting: Cooper Lighting and Hubbardton Forge Paint: Sherwin-Williams Co. Plumbing accessories: Chicago Faucets and Zurn Industries Tile: American Olean, Crossville Inc. and Daltile

Principal furnishings Casework: R.J. Wherry & Associates Inc. Conference chairs: KI Conference tables: Safco Products Co. Lounge and patient room table lamps: Cal Lighting Lounge seating and lounge/patient room tables: Adden Furniture and St. Timothy Chair Co. Office desks, workstations, files and seating: Steelcase Patient room daybed sleeper: Hill-Rom Inc. Patient room seating: AGI and Adden Furniture

Major medical equipment High-dose-rate brachytherapy: Varian Medical Systems Inc. and Xstrahl Linear accelerator: Varian Medical Systems Inc. Simulator: GE Healthcare

Infrastructure Air handling units: Johnson Controls Inc. Boilers: Camus Hydronics Elevators: Otis Elevator Co. Fire safety: Honeywell International Inc. HVAC and building energy management controls: United Technologies Corp.'s Automated Logic division (expansion of existing system) Kitchen equipment: American Foodservice Variable volume terminal units: Price Industries

Information provided by HFR Design Inc. and Valley View Hospital