Texas’ population growth is fueling the need for new and improved medical facilities.
Stephen O’Kane

The Lone Star State’s major cities are seeing more and more medical projects being developed due to the continued boost in population. While some areas are building new, ground-up developments, others are expanding their existing facilities. From surgical centers to collaborative research buildings, Texas is experiencing a wide range of new medical projects.

Rice University Collaborative Research Center

Rice University Collaborative Research Center will be an eight-story, 480,000-square-foot facility in Houston.

The Houston area is seeing a rise in medical facilities, and not just because of population growth. The Rice University Collaborative Research Center is being developed so that Texas institutions can share research space, thus becoming more effective and efficient.

“Rice University is a member institution in the Texas Medical Center, and it recognized several years ago that research collaborations among institutions were becoming more common, more strategic and more critical,” says Jackie Venable, marketing manager for Linbeck, the company serving as general contractor for the project. “However, finding research space the institutions could share to collaborate was challenging. The Collaborative Research Center is an attempt to address that challenge.”

The facility will be an eight-story tower spanning approximately 480,000 square feet. Plans include a base platform housing a vivarium, a 280-seat auditorium, a 100-seat seminar room and classrooms, as well as retail, restaurant and common area uses. According to Venable, the University expects to seek LEED certification for the Collaborative Research Center, which would make it the first LEED-certified research lab in the city of Houston.

Situated in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, the project will allow six major research groups to participate in the center’s features. These include Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

“The facility is dedicated to supporting collaboration among world-class biomedical research institutions and enabling them to combine their skills to find path breaking solutions to today’s most pressing healthcare issues,” says Venable. “This combination of Texas Medical Center research institutions has the capacity to be one of the most powerful biomedical research efforts in the world. The Collaborative Research Center is a major investment toward that goal.”

In addition to Linbeck, a few other companies are assisting with the development of the project. FKP Architects is serving as project architect while Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is providing executive and design architect services. The Collaborative Research Center, which expects to bring Phase I of the project on line in early 2009, will be owned by Rice University.

Women’s Center at Baylor Medical Center at Frisco

The Women’s Center at Baylor Medical Center at Frisco houses features such as nine labor and delivery suites, 15 postpartum suites, eight ante-partum suites and a three-bed recovery suite.

A new medical facility recently opened in the northern Dallas suburb of Frisco. The project was the culmination of a planned two-phase development, which was created to cater to the growing population of the city and the surrounding area.

“The city of Frisco, as well as Collin County, is growing at a rapid pace so we expanded the hospital to meet those needs,” says William Keaton, chief executive officer of Baylor Medical Center at Frisco. “The Women’s Center is part of a larger expansion of the hospital that was completed in two phases and was comprised of two floors that were added to the existing facility.”

The first phase of the $20 million project was completed on the first floor of the medical center and featured an expanded lobby as well as additional facilities such as operating rooms, an expanded emergency department and laboratory, treatment rooms and patient beds. Also completed as part of Phase I were a kitchen and dining area expansion and post-operative, pre-operative and step-down beds. A technologically advanced medical education facility, which features a teaching laboratory designed for demonstrating the latest surgical techniques and medical procedures to physicians, was built to cater to the area’s rise in population.

The second phase of the hospital expansion included the Women’s Center, a unique 40,000-square-foot labor and delivery unit located on the second floor. The new facility houses nine labor and delivery suites, 15 postpartum suites, eight ante-partum suites, a three-bed recovery suite, three operating rooms, a 16-bed newborn nursery and an eight-bed neonatal intensive care unit.

However, the design of this particular expansion is what sets it apart from other labor and delivery units. “Our private labor and delivery suites, as well as the postpartum and ante-partum suites, were designed to create a soothing atmosphere,” says Keaton. “The furniture is mahogany and each room features a flat-screen television. Medical equipment is hidden in wooden cabinets and behind artwork to give the rooms a more home-like feel. The entire unit is wireless and all nursing documentation is electronic so each room contains its own computer for access by clinical staff.”

The units also are equipped with an advanced infant security system. An ankle bracelet, which includes GPS tracking and an alarm system, is used to monitor all newborn babies to keep them from being transported out of the unit without properly being discharged.

The patient suites also feature a specialized camera system so the medical staff can monitor patients. A webcam is featured in these areas as well, in order to allow patients access to communicate with friends or other family members. According to Keaton, the purpose of the camera system is to allow medical staff to deliver faster and more effective emergency response in addition to improving the efficiency, safety and quality of patient care.

For new parents, The Women’s Center also offers a full range of childbirth education classes as well as celebration dinners and personalized gifts, commemorating the birth of the patients’ children.

“This entire project was created with the patient in mind,” says Keaton. “From the medical equipment to the room design and décor, everything was designed to accommodate our patients’ needs.”

The Women’s Center at Baylor Medical Center at Frisco opened in July. Arlington, Texas-based Ascension Group served as project architect for the development, and MedCO served as general contractor.

Round Rock Wellness Center

Round Rock Wellness Center will be completed in three to four phases, spanning approximately 120,000 to 160,000 square feet upon completion.

Another new medical center is currently being planned for the city of Round Rock, which is positioned near Austin. The project is being created to respond to area’s lack of medical office space, according to Robert McWilliams, development partner for Plano, Texas-based Kinsman Ventures, the developer of Round Rock Wellness Center.

The company is scheduled to begin the development of Phase I of the facility, which will be located near University Boulevard and Sunrise in Round Rock, in the first quarter of 2008. Round Rock Wellness Center will be completed in three to four phases, spanning approximately 120,000 to 160,000 square feet upon completion.

The project will comprise medical office space, an ambulatory surgical center, a diagnostic center and retail space, making it the only stand-alone medical office/surgical center and long-term acute-care facility in town.

“We have assembled a great team and are in negotiations with great potential tenants,” says McWilliams. Among that team, in addition to developer Kinsman Ventures, are Corgan Associates, which will serve as architect, and MedicaVentures, which will serve as property manager, handling leasing and management of the property.

Forney Medical Plaza

Forney Medical Plaza, which is valued at $45 million, will be built in three phases. Phase I of the project broke ground this summer with completion set for summer 2008.

The east side of Dallas also is seeing the development of a new medical facility. Forney Medical Plaza in Forney will be the first large-scale, comprehensive medical complex in the city and will be completed in three phases.

Like many other Texas medical facilities, Forney Medical Plaza will cater to the population boost the area is experiencing. “The explosive growth in Forney created a void in the market for quality health care facilities as well as a need for additional physicians,” says Glen Perkins, executive vice president and managing director of development and acquisitions for Houston-based PM Realty Group, which is part of the development team for the project. “The mayor and city council were actively looking for a group to come in and build a surgery center and hospital for the community.”

An affiliate of PM Realty Group formed a joint venture with 18 primary care physicians and specialists to develop Forney Medical Plaza. Built in three phases, the $45 million project will feature three buildings located on Broad Street near State Highway 80 in Kaufman County, 20 miles east of Dallas.

“This development is part of a trend bringing diverse medical care to the suburbs,” says Perkins. “No longer are patients traveling to downtown urban centers to receive state-of-the-art medical care as these services are now available in their community. Doctors, regardless of specialty, can live and work in the same community.”

Phase I of Forney Medical Plaza will house a 54,000-square-foot medical office building. Phase II will consist of a 12,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center and diagnostic center, while Phase III features a 60-bed hospital.

The project is approximately 80 percent pre-leased by several local primary physician partners including doctors Wesley Wilson and Les Sandknop. According to Perkins, Forney Medical Plaza will allow healthcare practitioners to provide healthcare seven days a week with immediate access to specialists and services.

GSR Andrade Architects and McCalla Rios Architects are providing project design services and Baird Construction is serving as general contractor. Century Bank is providing funding for the project, which broke ground this summer. The first phase of Forney Medical Plaza is scheduled for completion in summer 2008.

©2007 France Publications, Inc. Duplication or reproduction of this article not permitted without authorization from France Publications, Inc. For information on reprints of this article contact Barbara Sherer at (630) 554-6054.

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