The 2013 Healthcare Design Conference got off to a great start on Nov. 16. One of the many features of the day were the facility tours which gave attendees the opportunity to visit a select group of healthcare buildings in the Orlando, Fla. area. 
I was fortunate enough to go on the hard hat tour of the Orlando Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center which is still very much under construction. The center is being constructed by several general contractors including Brasfield & Gorrie, Cummins, and Turner Construction. This $665 million, 1.2 million-square project designed by the joint venture of AECOM and RLF, broke ground in 2008. The 65-acre site near Lake Nona, is part of the new medical city that includes a variety of institutions such as the Nemours Children's Hospital, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute, the University of Florida Academic and Research Center, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and the University of Central Florida Medical School. 
The new facility will feature 134 inpatient beds as well as a 120-bed community living center and a 60-bed residential rehabilitation program with a large range services to treat Veterans, except open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, and transplants. 
We were able to take a look at the interstitial floors, which are the intermediate spaces used in hospitals and laboratory buildings to house the mechanical systems of the building. Engineers used Lean design to construct the suspended floors with a floating concrete system. With the building sitting almost only three feet above sea level, the project team managed to add a tunnel below the structure to connect the buildings on the campus.
The center will include two linear accelerators, one CT scanner, one cath lab, an EP lab, and two MRIs. The     
future generators, each at 2250 KW, will supply full energy backup for the whole campus and will have five chillers and three boilers, each with a reserve, and 44 air handling units.
The design team incorporated healing gardens into atrium spaces to provide spaces of calm and respite for Veterans, staff, and visitors. With construction still ongoing, the center is shaping up to be a building that will heal and honor Veterans.