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Project Overview

Client: Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Pharmacy
Main Contractor: Armstrong Associates


To our construction company, there can be no project more difficult, challenging, and serious than working in a functioning hospital. The life/safety issues are so much more critical than a typical project, and an unannounced power outage or water shut down can have very critical consequences. This particular project was for a pharmacy, one of the most important parts of the hospital’s daily functioning.

The challenges beyond the life/safety aspects made this project particularly difficult. The existing building had poor as-built documents from the original construction, and so since we were on the critical path of the much larger master project, we had to quickly identify previously unknown issues once demolition was completed and come up with solutions as construction progressed and the clock was ticking. Soon after the demolition and discovery of existing issues, we began our BIM (Building Information Systems) 3-D computer modeling of the existing area of work so that we could identify any conflicts between new walls, ceilings, mechanical ducting, pipelines, electrical conduits, and fire sprinkler systems. The BIM modeling allowed us, the client, the architect, and the engineers to view any potential conflict in a 3-D computerized setting, thereby saving in costs for rework in the future and allowing us to construct all systems with amazing precision, which was critical given the extremely limited amount of space we had to get all of these systems in to. BIM modeling is normally done on much larger projects, but the importance of this tenant improvement for the overall operations of the hospital caused the BIM modeling to be a critical part of our project.

If the life/safety in a functioning hospital and lack of as-built information were not enough of a challenge, the existing main electrical and mechanical utilities feeding the hospital went directly through our area of work and had to be re-routed as a part of our project with no interruptions to life/safety systems or normal hospital operations. The tenant improvement was also done in and adjacent to a functioning morgue and as well as in and below a functioning Cath Lab department.

Some of the incredibly technical work that was done in this tenant improvement included Robotic Pill Picker, Box Picker, and RIVA (IVs and syringes) systems designed by an Italian vendor who had their installers flown in from Italy and a PTS (pneumatic tube system) installed, including additional system areas added to our contract to connect to other floors and areas in the hospital. The Pill/Box/RIVA robot actually picks the items needed from cubbies in the Pharmacy and takes the items to the department where they are required, completely independent and self-sufficient.

The new HVAC ducting for this project had to go from the Pharmacy location in the basement through four floors above and up to the roof. These ducts went to the new HVAC units, and new construction on all four floors and roof above the tenant improvement space was required for this new duct work.

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