Historic Hospital Upgraded

By Paul Fournier | September 28, 2010

Within the confines of a congested urban setting, a new campus is taking shape for the oldest hospital in Cambridge, Mass.

Contractor Walsh Brothers Inc., working with project manager RF Walsh Project Management Inc. and architect Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, is expanding and upgrading Mount Auburn Hospital (MAH), a 190-bed facility that has served Cambridge and surrounding communities for more than 120 years.

According to MAH President Jeanette Clough, the project's primary purpose is not to increase inpatient and outpatient services but to alleviate the hospital's existing space constraints by creating properly sized patient care facilities — eliminating four-bed rooms is one of the goals. Construction is designed to enhance existing facilities; revise site circulation; renovate, expand and consolidate hospital departments; and increase parking capacity.

As part of the contract, Walsh Brothers is constructing a new West Building, an acute-care facility that will house the hospital's new main lobby; a new Emergency Department driveway; a new front entrance; and a new West Garage. The new garage will remedy a chronic problem — inadequate parking provided in the existing East Garage and in a limited surface area.

Since the existing campus provides both inpatient and outpatient medical services, with patient, visitor and staff activity taking place 24/7, the project team spent many hours designing and developing ways to safely channel pedestrian and vehicle movement while construction takes place.

Official groundbreaking ceremonies were held September 8, 2006. The contractor installed fencing and barriers to protect pedestrians and secure all areas under construction, and some building demolition was undertaken. Crews constructed a temporary Emergency Department driveway and parking area to accommodate ambulances and other emergency vehicles, and established a fire lane that is maintained at all times.

Before excavation and concrete pours for the West Building foundations could get under way, Walsh Brothers had to relocate some existing utilities. Workers also had to install underground utilities within the building and parking structure footprints. In addition, crews installed protective underpinnings for existing buildings in the tight compound.

And to assure the community that construction would proceed with the minimum impact on its surroundings, Walsh Brothers prepared a detailed Construction Management Plan that was forwarded to a number of agencies, among them, Cambridge Community Development; Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department; Public Works; Water Department; and the Department of Public Health. Among the concerns addressed in the plan were establishing truck routes, protecting city streets, securing the construction site and controlling construction noise.

In line with these provisions, the contractor set up on-site truck wheel washing stations, and is sweeping jobsite entrances and exits to prevent construction materials from migrating to city streets. Furthermore, to ensure project security, the contractor completely enclosed the job site with a temporary chain link fence, gated all access points, and secures the site at the end of each workday.

To minimize construction noise — always one of the thorniest issues at an urban job site — the contractor has taken a number of mitigation steps including:

  • Scheduling work during day-time hours
  • Using appropriate mufflers on equipment.
  • Employing less noisy construction operations where feasible and practical
  • Selecting the quietest practical item of equipment
  • Turning off idle equipment

A ribbon-cutting is planned for the completed project in 2009, to cap a decade of capital campaigning, planning and design. According to President Clough, the creation of the West Building complex accompanied by much coveted new parking in the West Garage will prepare Mount Auburn for the next generation.

Key personnel for the hospital campus expansion project include: for RF Walsh Project Management Inc., Miriam Tuchman, AIA, project manager, and Rick Martin, site manager; for architect Tsoi/Kobus & Asociates, Drake Jacobs, AIA; and for contractor Walsh Brothers Inc., Nelson Dupuis, senior project manager, and Rudman Ham, senior site superintendent.


The Job Schedule

Major construction completion targets are:

  • West Building structural shell, August 2007
  • West Garage structural shell, February 2008
  • Building cladding and finishes, July 2008
  • Final structural and sitework, July 2008
  • Existing building renovations, July 2009