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Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center New Patient Bed Tower and Vertical Expansion

September 2022
Member Project
Piedmont Athens New Patient Tower



Following the completion of a comprehensive campus master plan, SmithGroup was engaged to plan and implement a transformative healthcare facility for this 360-bed community hospital, associated with Emory University and the School of Medicine. The new hospital facilities are designed to create a fresh image for the campus, improve internal and external circulation, and provide inpatient and outpatient facilities that support a more efficient and patient-focused care model. The scope included full design deliverables, construction schedules, facility condition assessments,
cost estimates and value engineering, low voltage design, medical equipment planning, and IO&T.


Community integration and wellness were key goals for the project. To accomplish this, the new tower creates an integrated circulation path from the community to a "neighborhood front porch" at the main entry and new community resources on the main level. The porch will support farmers markets, food trucks, and community wellness events.


The expansion was needed to support future growth and capacity demand. The campus was challenged with flow, wayfinding, facility age, and facilities that are challenged for today’s clinical needs.


The transformation of the campus started with a 32-bed vertical expansion of an existing 1980s facility, adding capacity for inpatient beds and swing space. Multiple other enabling projects make way for the demolition of a 1930-50s era building, which will be the site of the six-story patient tower. The tower will add 128 inpatient beds in four, 32-bed units, designed as a point-of-care model, distributing direct clinical support adjacent to the bedside. The tower also provides a new hospital main entry, public amenities, and a wayfinding hub for the campus, connecting horizontally to outpatient services and other existing hospital services to improve the flow and functionality of the overall facility.

Key Findings, Measurable Results and/or Next Steps

Hospital leadership mandated this project fix the flow of the facility with no operational shutdowns. To address the first challenge, SmithGroup sited the 120-bed inpatient tower along the street edge to create a spacious internal courtyard and concourse that works as an organizational landmark. Careful phase planning with swing spaces developed in design charrettes separated on-stage and off-stage movements and streamlined supply chain logistics.

The second mandate to keep the hospital operational required the designers to work cohesively with the construction team from the start. A multi-phase approach to the project called for the expansion of an existing 1980s facility to enable the demolition of the oldest building, making room for the new tower. Using an integrated team delivery method and Lean methodologies, target value design, and pull planning were critical tools to keep the team working collaboratively and minimize the costly backtracking. This approach worked seamlessly for design and construction, completing the enabling and vertical new construction work on time and on budget.

Ultimately, the team designed and constructed 44 enabling departments, 100,000 square feet of clinical and non-clinical areas, 450 staff moved, 9 GMP packages in 14 months.


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