Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest in New England.

For more than six years, the architect has been working at MGH on renovations designed to meet increasing clinical care demands and acuity while improving quality of care delivery. Totaling more than 90,000 square feet, these technically challenging projects were located across multiple buildings of varying ages on a tight urban site.

Existing conditions posed multiple problems during planning and design, including minimal or no swing space to temporarily relocate services, maintenance of daily delivery of care, low tolerance for limiting patient access to care, and existing infrastructure obstacles, such as small structural bays, low floor-to-floor height, and stressed ceiling plenums.

Additionally, advance planning for phased implementation of the design had to be orchestrated with daily clinical and facility operations during construction. Multiple shutdowns of engineering systems had to be coordinated not only within the project boundaries, but also with adjoining horizontal and vertical neighboring departments.

Perhaps the greatest challenge was prioritizing the users’ programmatic needs within the given allocation of space and incorporating the limited palette of the MGH institutional standards into the design. The architect used colors for visual accents and wayfinding, wood paneling in public areas coordinated with other finishes, and custom-designed casework to create a warmer setting. Access to natural light was incorporated wherever possible.

Overall, the renovations have resulted in a supportive and peaceful environment for patients, visitors, and staff.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed October 2006)

Chief administrator: Dorothy Haney, Project Manager, (617) 724-3582

Firm: Payette, (617) 895-1042

Design team: Sho-Ping Chin, AIA, LEED, Principal-in-Charge; Ching-Hua Ho, Project Architect; Susan Carpenter, LEED, Project Designer (Payette); Mahesh Goyal, Lead Electrical Engineer (Thompson Consultants); Joseph Bonanno, EIT, LEED, MEP Project Manager/Lead Mechanical Engineer (RDK Engineers)

Photography: © Warren Jagger Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 60,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $350

Total construction cost (excluding land): $21,000,000