Project Story

The Hale Family Building: A Towering New Pediatric Mission

11 stories. 30 state-of-the-art NICU beds. 25% more green and open space. 75+ more years of helping save lives.

The Number One-Ranked Pediatric Hospital in the U.S. is Getting a New Clinical Tower. It’s Not as Easy as it Sounds.

Boston Children’s Hospital, founded in 1869, is the number-one-ranked pediatric hospital in the United States (U.S. News and World Report). In 2017, with Boston Children’s occupancy rates nearing capacity, and a growing population of their patients needing complex care, the hospital made the decision to expand and modernize their facilities. Anchoring that plan would be the Hale Family Building.

“The city needs this building. The New England region needs this building. The world needs this building. We're going to be able to save and improve thousands of lives because of this building.”
Lisa Hogarty
SVP of Real Estate Planning and Development
Boston Children’s Hospital
 

The Story

At 11 floors (with four more levels below grade) and 565,000 square feet, the Hale Family Building will be using every square inch to provide enhanced patient care and improve outcomes for children. Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, features will include a comprehensive Heart Center, a state-of-the-art NICU, intensive care and surgical services, and private rooms for all patients, The building will also feature green and open space, including a rooftop garden. When complete, the Hale Family Building will be the country’s most advanced clinical tower. 

Bringing all the elements together was a steep climb. Challenges were varied—from designing infrastructure able to seamlessly accommodate evolving medical technology, to raising an 11-story tower in structurally crowded environs, to hauling 5,000 trailer truckloads of dirt from the middle of a working medical campus. Bob Sullivan, Senior Director of Facilities Construction at Boston Children’s Hospital, was in the center of it all. Partnership was key.

“We co-located on this project with all of the major stakeholders—Boston Children's Hospital, the user groups, the clinical staff, the facilities group, our architects, our engineers, and our contractor, Suffolk. Everybody was just trying to do right by Boston Children's—throwing ideas out there, solving for any anticipated issues. It was just mind-boggling.” The gathered stakeholders were motivated by a common goal. 

“Patients come from all over the world to Boston Children's Hospital for care. And so Transforming Tomorrow means providing these kids with the greatest clinical doctors and staff—and the very best facility that we can possibly build for them.”

Hale Build Project Using Procore

Collaborative Complexity. And COVID.

The Hale Family Building is Suffolk’s largest healthcare endeavor in the general contractor’s 33-year history. “It's incredibly detail-oriented and very complex, across the board,” says Pablo Juarez, Project Manager for Suffolk. “Luckily, we have strong allies; the design team, the architect firm Shepley Bulfinch, our engineers, our code consultants, and E.G. Sawyer, our specialty contactor. It's not just Suffolk at the end of the day.”

From high-tech intricacy to the deep, legacy expertise of the trades, a project like the Hale Family Building calls for gapless collaboration. “The attention to detail working in a healthcare setting—the mechanical and electrical systems that go into a building of this scale are some of the most complex in the world,” says Pablo. “Construction technology is so broad and far- reaching now. It’s drone footage, it’s 3D cameras—it’s the Procore platform, which encompasses all facets of project management. Procore has the tools for capturing observations and updating drawings, so we have a current set in real time all the time; and RFIs keeping a live snapshot of our budget.”

Procore’s platform connects all stakeholders—from owner to specialty contractor—in a single intuitive, information-rich construction management ecosystem through which all communications flow. Collaboration, partnership, and workflow transparency were raising a new clinical tower. Then COVID appeared.

“There was a peripheral knowledge of what was going on in the world,” says Pablo, “and it seemed to be getting worse. I remember having very specific conversations with a lot of friends and family, ‘Is this real? What is going to come next? How bad is it going to get? How's this going to affect our lives?’ Not nameless faces on the other side of the world; our neighbors and our friends and family. A few short weeks after that, we got the call that we had to demobilize our project site.” The Hale Family Building project drew to a standstill. Sort of.

Determination: A Potent Antiviral

Construction on the Hale Family Building site was paused for seven weeks, but planning work continued unabated. Procore’s virtual space saw to it. “Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) coordination kept going,” Pablo says. “Towards the end of those seven weeks we had made incredible progress. We did a deep dive of the contract documents. We kept identifying potential issues, and we kept working with the architect and the client to come up with solutions to these issues. We never stopped looking at the job, we never stopped being productive.”

Suffolk Safety Manager David Clegg oversaw a responsible return to the site, arranging for thermal imaging cameras to read body temps of workers. Washing stations were set up all over the site and on every completed floor of the tower. Protocols were exhaustively discussed and implemented.

Completion of the Hale Family Building is slated for early 2022, with an expected opening in summer 2022. It’s been a journey—one that Suffolk Program Manager Pablo Juarez is personally determined to see through with a meaningful sense of closure.

“Kid's lives are on the line. It’s something that I carry with me when I approach problems here—the simple fact that we have to make sure to get it right. The stakes are too high. That’s why we're striving for perfection.”

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