Project profile: Medical center expansion

The project used several innovative strategies to save energy and reduce harmful emissions into the community.

By EwingCole September 8, 2014

Project name: Bayhealth phase 2 expansion: pavilion and central utility/services building
Project type: New construction
Engineering Firm: EwingCole
Building type: Hospitals/health care facilities
Location: Dover, DE
Timeline: 2005 – 2012

Project details

Bayhealth Medical Center’s phase 2 pavilion is part of EwingCole’s ongoing master plan expansion of Bayhealth’s Kent Campus, located in Dover, DE. The $140 million, 391,000 sq ft project connects to existing facilities and is also designed as a base for a future 7-story patient tower. An important design consideration of the project was to create a new entrance to the overall site; the skylit entry canopy and lobby connect patients and visitors to existing hospital functions as well as to the new 375-car parking garage. Functionally, the program includes a emergency department with helipad, an integrated oncology center, a conference and training center, central sterile department and compounding pharmacy.

Central Services Building

A new Central Services Building provides a central utility plant, among other services, segregating support functions from patient flow. The Central Services Building is also designed for automated transport of materials. The Emergency Department, designed to accommodate 60,000 visits per year, includes 43 treatment spaces designed with a universal room concept that can accommodate a variety of uses including exam, trauma, fast track, decontamination, and psychiatric care. A dedicated imaging suite is located adjacent to the Emergency Department.

Oncology center

The new oncology center offers radiation oncology on the first floor and medical oncology on the second. Radiation oncology includes three linear accelerators and one CT-HDR unit, exam rooms, clinical and administrative support. Medical oncology provides 24 chemotherapy treatment spaces, with exam rooms, a dedicated pharmacy, lab, administrative and physician offices. The spaces blend clean white surfaces with pops of cheerful color enhanced by natural images and textures, melding cutting-edge medical technology with a patient-friendly atmosphere.

Chiller plant

The design of the chiller plant provides full serviceability to all components. Space was allocated for removal of pump motors and pull clearances for cleaning chiller tubes. A hoist system permits easy removal of chiller heads for tube removal and inspection. Rooftop structural dunnage with grated walkways provides full access to all cooling tower components, including piping and accessories hung beneath the dunnage. Space provisions for future equipment within the footprint of the current building ensure adequate capacity can be accommodated for construction projects in the near future. Furthermore, the building was designed for future expansion to house additional equipment to support construction projects in the long term. Provisions for equipment redundancy were also included in the design, since continued operation of the hospital is critical in the event of not only mechanical failure, but also a natural disaster.


When Bayhealth engaged EwingCole to design the expansion, the location and condition of the existing central plant quickly became a critical issue in the overall master plan. Nearing the end of its useful life, the plant was centrally located on the site, an ideal location for the new pavilion. After reviewing several options, the project team decided that the plant should be demolished and a new Central Services Building built across the street to serve the existing campus, new pavilion, and future construction projects. The new CSB houses the central chiller and steam boiler plants along with a loading dock, bulk oxygen storage tank and emergency generator plant. The building’s highly visible position on a major avenue in Dover, directly adjacent to the new pavilion, increased the importance of its aesthetics; it needed to complement the design of the new pavilion.

The biggest challenge of the project was building the new central plants and undertaking a major construction project while maintaining continuous operations at the existing hospital, which needed to stay in service throughout the full duration of the project. A detailed phasing plan illustrating each stage of work was created with input from the owner, construction manager, architect, engineer and subcontractors. At each stage of the work, impact on existing hospital operations was analyzed to ensure stable operations could be guaranteed.

The phasing plan included provisions for chilled water, steam, electrical, medical gas, and plumbing changeovers. Phases were coordinated so that chiller work was completed in the winter and steam work during the summer months to minimize potential impact. Temporary equipment was brought to the site to ensure hospital operations would not be sacrificed in the event of an unseasonably warm or cold day.

Once the new plants were completed, they were tested and commissioned before changeover to ensure that the systems performed as designed before “going live”. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company was the construction manager on the project and worked with the rest of the project team to ensure a seamless changeover.

Project success

The CSB project used several innovative strategies to save energy and reduce harmful emissions into the community. A plate and frame heat exchanger installed in the chiller plant provides "free" chilled water in the winter by allowing the chillers to be bypassed, permitting chilled water to be created directly from the cooling towers. This strategy saves considerable energy in a hospital application, which typically has a year-round chilled water load for process needs.

Variable speed drives installed on the chillers, pumps and cooling towers further improve energy performance. The boilers utilize a flue gas economizer to preheat the boiler feed water and reduce overall energy use. Low NOx burners on the boilers also reduce discharge of hazardous emissions. The boilers are staged through Miura’s MIFLEX software and, coupled with an automated chimney draft system, ensure optimal firing rates and combustion air quantities, resulting in peak efficiency in operation of the steam plant. De-alkalyzers on the cooling towers and steam boilers reduce blow-down and the associated heat and water losses.

The fuel storage tanks utilize an automated transfer system that gives Bayhealth flexibility in deciding which fuel tank is used for emergency generator and boiler service. Fuel can also be transferred from one tank to the other automatically. An automatic fuel polishing system ensures that the fuel quality is maintained over extended storage periods to permit reliable emergency generator service.

The entire plant is monitored through the campus building automation system to ensure that any problem is brought to the plant operator’s immediate attention, particularly critical in a hospital setting.

Author Bio: EwingCole delivers buildings, spaces and places that advance their clients' missions.