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Innovative Healing: ACM panels give modern aesthetic to award-winning hospital

One of the largest hospitals in the Chicago area, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is a 617-bed teaching, research and referral hospital, Level I trauma center and is home to Lutheran General Children's Hospital, the only children's hospital in the northwest suburbs. Advocate Health Care commissioned OWP/P | Cannon Design to design a new $200 million, eight-story, 192 single-room patient tower that would represent the hospital's commitment to providing healthier, more comfortable surroundings for patients and their families, which opened to patients in July 2009.

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The architects juxtaposed glass curtainwalls, metal and brick to create a modern aesthetic. While the brick ties the new building to the existing hospital campus, the glass curtainwalls and metal panels give the façade a sleek, modern look that appears to flow along the graceful curve of the property line, while tiered layers of glass and metal composite add dimension. The first hospital in the Midwest to achieve LEED Gold certification, the architects incorporated recycled materials, natural lighting and sustainable design practices into the plan for the tower.


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Shaffner Heaney Associates Inc. fabricated 48,200 square feet of 4-mm Alcoa Architectural Products' Reynobond Aluminum Composite Material panels with an FR core in Bright Silver Metallic Colorweld 300XL finish for the canopy fascias and soffits, wall cladding, and exterior and interior column covers, along with 1,800 square feet of 4-mm Reynobond ACM with an FR Core in custom Pewter Colorweld 300XL finish for accent details. The panels were installed in an open joint, rout-and-return rainscreen system by All American Exterior Solutions.

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"We had to develop an innovative approach to fabricating the eyebrows, which are mounted about 11/2 feet off of the facade," said Justin Klatt of Shaffner Heaney. "Using Reynobond ACM as a structural stiffening plate allowed us to install the ACM eyebrow panels as self-supporting structures without stud framing behind them."


A healing garden joins the space between the old and new hospital building and tower on the ground level as part of a new entrance link that connects the Parkside Center and the Yacktman Children's Pavilion with the hospital. The link has a green roof that's visible from all of the family lounges on the west side of the patient tower. The children's hospital opens to the rooftop garden on the second floor, where patients and their families can enjoy a little bit of the outdoors.

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Essential to the design are patient safety, floor-plan efficiency and improved quality of life for patients. The inpatient floors are laid out with virtual "pods," each with a universal floor plate design that can be easily converted to meet future demand. Each pod has a decentralized nursing station to decrease noise levels and travel distances, and a column-free interior. The building's first floor is the hospitals new main entrance, and a two-story atrium leads to the second floor pediatric unit. The tower also houses three MRI rooms, ICU, oncology, a neurology/stroke facility and a top-floor mother/baby wing. All of the patient rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Chicago skyline.

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Recycled, locally produced and environmentally sensitive materials such as terrazzo flooring, wood and aluminum composite material were used throughout the tower. The green roof, planted with prairie grass seeds and varieties of alpine sedum, a low groundcover plant that is easy to maintain and drought tolerant. More than 92 percent of the construction waste from the patient tower was recycled. Low-VOC paints, sealants, adhesives, plastics and carpeting were used to improve indoor air quality. A unique rainwater management system collects rainwater on-site and filters it through rooftop plantings before it reaches the permeable pavement used on the vehicle drive, which includes an underground water detention area, that ultimately connects to the city storm system.


The project has won a variety of honors already, including the User-Centered Award from the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo's Distinction Awards Competition that honors design teams who have made a profound contribution to healthcare design; the 2010 Architectural Showcase Citation of Merit Award from Healthcare Design magazine; the 2010 Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization for healthcare facilities committed to environmentally responsible operations; and the 2009 ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering Chapter Award.


Patient Tower, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill.

Owner: Advocate Health Care, Oak Brook, Ill.

General contractor: Power Construction, Schaumburg, Ill.

Architect: OWP/P | Cannon Design, Chicago

MEP consultants: Grumman/Butkus Associates, Evanston, Ill.

Fabricator: Shaffner Heaney Associates Inc., South Bend, Ind.

Installer: All American Exterior Solutions, Lake Zurich, Ill.

Metal wall panels: Alcoa Architectural Products, Eastman, Ga.,


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