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Ohio State submits proposal to enter design phase for new hospital tower

Wexner Medical Center Chief Operating Officer David McQuaid speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting Jan. 31 at the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-Chief

Ohio State inched forward on its plans to build a new hospital tower Wednesday, with the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees submitting a proposal to enter into contracts with an architecture firm.

The proposal — awaiting approval by the full Board on Friday — seeks $70.8 million in funding for professional services to advance the design process. This next step, which will take about 14-16 months, includes both schematic design and design development, said Jay Kasey, senior vice president for administration and planning.

As the project advances, there will be additional design, at which point the exact total cost for the project will be determined, Dan Hedman, a spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning, said.

The proposal Wednesday marks the end of the nearly two-year early planning phase for the project.

“We’re sort of in the first and second inning of a nine-inning game, but this first and second inning are really, really important two innings,” said Board member Robert Schottenstein. “And now we’re going to move into design. And as we move from design, we’ll move to construction drawings. Then, at some point, we’ll actually start.”

The new inpatient hospital is set to be the largest single facilities project in university history. It will contain up to 840 private-room beds and will phase out and repurpose 440 beds in the aging Rhodes and Doan halls.

The hospital tower will likely be located on at least part of the 12 acres freed up by the Cannon Drive relocation project, and will bolster the university’s fast-growing medical enterprise.

In addition to the private-room beds, the hospital will have 60 neonatal intensive care unit bassinets, an emergency department and operating rooms. Two parking garages also will be constructed, designs of which will be completed in the next phase, according to Board documents.

“We have this vision in our strategic plan to be a top-20 academic medical center and I’m fully believing that we have the ability to accomplish that,” Dr. Craig Kent, dean of the College of Medicine, said in November when the proposal was first announced. “If we’re going to be successful, we have to have the facilities that allow that success.”

HDR, the architecture firm that advised the university during the early planning phase, was selected to design the hospital, but a contract has not yet been signed, Hedman said.

University President Michael Drake in November estimated hospital tower construction could be complete by 2025.

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