Penn Medicine Kicks Off $1.5B Philly Project

The Pavilion, a 1.5 million-square-foot hospital rising at the site of the former Penn Tower in West Philadelphia, marks the largest development in the university’s history.

The University of Pennsylvania has broken ground on The Pavilion, a 1.5 million-square-foot hospital on the West Philadelphia campus of Penn Medicine. The $1.5 billion project, which will be erected on the site of the former Penn Tower, marks the largest capital project in Penn’s history.

The Pavilion at Penn Medicine
The Pavilion at Penn Medicine

Sited at 33rd St. and Convention Ave., the 17-story Pavilion will feature 500 private patient rooms and 47 operating rooms—but it won’t be your traditional hospital facility. Penn has put the responsibility for the designing and planning of the Pavilion in the hands of PennFirst, an Integrated Project Delivery team consisting of a group of leaders in their respective fields: architectural firm Foster+Partners; global healthcare design firm HDR; engineering design firm BR+A; and construction management companies L.F. Driscoll and Balfour Beatty.

“When setting out to design a hospital, the requirement is normally to improve on the existing model. Instead, we questioned this approach. The effort and determination of our whole multidisciplinary team to investigate every single detail of healthcare delivery and hospital design to drive change will lead to a hospital that makes a new benchmark for the future of healthcare,” Nigel Dancey, head of studio and senior executive partner with Foster + Partners, said in a prepared statement.

The Pavilion will center on an adaptable room concept that gives the rooms the flexibility to be changed over time without altering the building fabric. The rooms will be equipped to transform from an intensive care unit layout when required, to a standard recovery room. Essentially, the patients won’t be moved around to the appropriate environment; the room will alter to accommodate the patient. “We’re building a hospital that will allow us to deliver the very best care the 21st century can offer patients—but we’re also ‘future-proofing’ it to ensure that we can quickly and seamlessly adapt what we do to help our patients in the coming decades,” Dr. J. Larry Jameson, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and executive vice president of the University for the Health System, noted in prepared remarks.

Penn is somewhat ahead of the curve at The Pavilion. According to Health Facilities Management and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering’s 2017 Hospital Construction Survey, only 38 percent of new hospital construction projects include flexible/adaptable patient rooms as a design feature to improve efficiency.

And there’s more to the Pavilion. The facility will be an eco-friendly destination, with such sustainable features and practices as the re-use of water, 100 percent outside air and ample green space. The building will also be physically connected to the neighboring Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

If all continues to go as planned, PennFirst will complete development of the Pavilion in 2021.

Image courtesy of courtesy of Foster + Partners