How vital is it to have a construction team dedicated to the unique and special needs of healthcare customers? AECOM Hunt’s Healthcare Group understands that faster, less expensive and improved delivery of patient care is not only life-changing, but life-saving. That’s why they created Studio H, a laboratory for testing and refining prefabrication and modular construction techniques for healthcare facilities.
Located within a warehouse in Indianapolis, Ind., Studio H is a collaborative space where AECOM construction and design professionals work with dozens of cutting-edge manufacturers to understand how different prefabricated elements fit together to improve the constructability of healthcare spaces. It’s also a showroom where clients can see firsthand how modular and prefabricated construction benefits their projects and a training facility for AECOM employees to learn how to optimize the installation of these components.
Faster, less expensive and improved delivery of patient care is not only life-changing, but life-saving
Studio H was born in 2015, when DIRTT, a manufacturer of highly customized interiors for healthcare facilities, approached AECOM Hunt to test the assembly of a new prefabricated patient room. Kurt Stahl, AECOM’s senior vice president of healthcare, accepted the offer, with the rationale that arming his team with knowledge of these prefabricated products would be valuable to AECOM’s healthcare clients.
AECOM Hunt’s role was to build-out two rooms, one conventional and the other integrating DIRTT’s modular patient room. The conventional stick-built patient room took 15 days. The prefabricated room took five-and-a half-days, from layout to punch-list.
Since then, the team has used Studio H to assemble and study many prefabricated building elements, successfully deploying them on a range of projects, including patient headwalls, a corridor with an MEP rack and individual bathroom pods. There is a prefabricated operating room that was completed from layout to finish in six days and soon there will be an oncology treatment room or oncology/medical surgery hybrid.
Adapting to a fast-evolving industry
The benefits of prefabrication include reduced cost, better quality, improved construction schedules, enhanced safety performance and expedited delivery. Prefabrication can also be a remedy for local labor shortages, a significant problem in the currently heated construction market. According to Stahl, “Studio H maximizes the benefits of lean delivery techniques, which go hand-in-hand with prefabrication, to deliver the best value to our projects as a whole.”
Stahl’s theory that Studio H would help AECOM Hunt improve its standing as a builder of healthcare projects proved correct, as the company advanced from thirteenth in the market to the top five. Studio H is not only a testing ground for new construction techniques; it’s also an authentic environment for incorporating new technologies that are increasingly used in patient care.
“By the time a new technology or methodology is ready to deploy in the room, the space is already a few years old and needs to be adapted,” observed Greg Mare, director of AECOM’s National Healthcare Design Practice for the Americas. “We’re learning how to integrate the resultant changes in equipment, methods of care, size and shape of the furnishings, etc., into the design of healthcare facilities.”
Concrete results for healthcare clients
Studio H is paying off for AECOM Hunt and producing results for clients such as UT Southwestern Medical Center’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital in Dallas, Texas and Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City, Ohio.