Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of University of Michigan, will welcome the new $920 million D. Dan and Betty Kahn Health Care Pavilion to its main medical campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., in fall 2025.

The 12-story building will include 264 beds, a state-of-the-art neurosciences center, specialty services for cardiovascular and thoracic patients, 20 surgical suites, and three interventional radiology suites.

The campus addition is designed to respond to the scale, massing, and materiality of the existing medical center buildings as well as prioritize sustainable design practices, including material selection and energy and water efficiency as primary goals.

Paul Strohm

Headshot: Courtesy of HOK/TMRW

Here, principal-in-charge Paul Strohm, director and senior principal at HOK (Dallas), discusses achieving these goals and decarbonization in healthcare.

What challenges did you have to overcome adding a new tower on Michigan Medicine’s main medical campus?

The medical center campus, known informally as “The Hill,” fortunately had an open building site strategically located on a prominent southwest corner of the campus. The site had been the former home of an earlier hospital that was demolished and cleared. The Kahn Pavilion depends on the connections back to the primary hospitals for patient transfers from the emergency department and adjoining Frankel Cardiovascular Center, as well as movement of staff and supplies. The challenge of adding a new tower to the existing campus was to not interfere with these critical pathways and to prioritize seamless movement along these primary arteries as the campus continues to evolve.

How is the new project designed to fit in with the other medical center buildings on campus?

The 12-story Kahn Pavilion is designed to complement existing campus buildings including University Hospital, Rogel Cancer Center, and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Those major buildings, along with the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, utilize precast concrete, glass, and, in a limited way, metal panels. These similarities bring high-level uniformity to the campus while welcoming individual expression primarily in the articulation and detailing of the precast panels and the window patterning.

What design strategies did you use to support Michigan Medicine’s goal to move to carbon neutrality in the future?

The design team of HOK and Affiliated Engineers, Inc. utilized several strategies to assist in achieving carbon neutrality in the future.

The Kahn Pavilion energy design strategies are expected to achieve savings of 71 percent electricity, 19 percent natural gas, and 49 percent carbon emissions.

These energy savings are achieved through a combination of creative design solutions and a thoughtful selection of building systems and materials including:

  • Highly efficient heat recovery chillers that allow for redirecting recovered heat to various heating applications, which saves energy while maintaining design conditions.
  • Low temperature heating hot water systems to reduce steam usage.
  • Low flow fixtures and closed loop cooling of sterilizers for improved water and energy efficiency.
  • Positioning the building near mass transit lines and providing bicycle accommodations for staff.
  • A high-performance exterior façade that provides thermal comfort, daylighting, and views to the building occupants.
  • Connection to the university’s highly efficient Central Power Plant, equipped with combined heat and power cogeneration, further reducing overall energy consumption.
  • Prioritizing locally sourced materials and products.

Explain how the project team used iterative modeling to reduce embodied carbon on this project.

The major design move that eliminated the largest magnitude of embodied carbon was the switch from a perimeter three-story-tall basement retaining wall system to a permanent earth retention system (ERS). The ERS requires substantially less structural material and relieves the building structure from the need to resist massive amounts of load from the surrounding soil.

The team also iteratively developed options for concrete mixes that included the use of available pozzolanic materials such as fly ash wherever possible, balancing the desire for embodied carbon reduction with performance and schedule requirements. These two strategies provided a 15 percent reduction in embodied carbon, saving 250,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent—a magnitude of carbon reduction sequestered by 4 million trees for 10 years.

How will clients’ demand for sustainable design strategies continue to shape the industry?

As healthcare providers and clients continue to emphasize the whole health of the community, sustainable design becomes an important tool for not only improving the impact of the building on the environment but also the people inside.

The principles of responsible design, such as additional daylighting, air quality, access to water, and biophilic references, complement interventions designed to promote healthier living, including respite areas, integration with the outdoors, and better nutrition.

For facilities like the Kahn Pavilion, which is registered under the USGBC’s LEED green building program with a certification goal of LEED Platinum, these solutions create an ecosystem that elevates the overall approach to create a healthier future for people and the planet.

What decarbonization design approaches are on your radar for healthcare facilities?

There are three primary strategies that are moving major healthcare projects to decarbonization. The first strategy is focused on the central energy plant. Central plants are being modified and/or creatively designed to utilize less fossil fuel as well as to accommodate new or additional equipment when base alternative energy systems are implemented.

The second strategy is to provide adequate space allocation for future alternative equipment and future technology with purely electric power sources.

The third strategy is to work with our clients and identify existing facilities that can be updated with new, more energy-efficient systems and building envelopes.

For more information and renderings on this project, read the First Look article here.

Anne DiNardo is editor-in-chief of Healthcare Design magazine and can be reached at anne.dinardo@emeraldx.com.