Students of the College of The Bahamas (COB) got a special look at the construction site of the new Critical Care wing of the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) recently. The series of tours comprised of mostly architect and engineering majors, took the students through the four-storey building highlighting its major features and design.
Leading the delegation from COB were Assistant professor of Architecture, Henry A Hepburn and, lecturer of Architectural Graphics and Design Studios, Valaria Flax. Their tour director was former COB student, Terry Jeane Thompson, licensed architect and part of the project management team for the construction site.
“The main purpose of taking the students on the tour was to provide some practical experience and exposure in terms of architecture and construction,” said Mr. Hepburn. “In the classroom students experience buildings in two dimensional drawings [but] by visiting the site, they were able to experience building in three dimensions along with all of its constituents. This visit provided an excellent, on the ground, holistic view of this unique facility.”
With hard hats ready, the students were given a detailed tour where each aspect of the new facility was showcased and defined. They were informed of unique terminologies and functions for the various spaces that are not typical to a regular building.
Architect major, 20-year-old Sharrand Pinder said he was particularly pleased with the project’s development and is very interested to see how well the old building will flow with the new building.
“What I noticed most was that as I enter the structure it has a lot of light coming into the building,” said Pinder, “I appreciate that and the amount of detailing in the new structure.”
“As was observed, the site posed a number of challenges,” said Mr. Hepburn, “The architect had to design for a most constrictive site, which was on a slope and in the heart of a most congested area. The new facility also had to be an adjunct to the existing structure that is in operation – this takes expertise and a tremendous amount of coordination.
“The team of Michael Diggiss and Assocaites, BECK and the other Bahamian consultants appear to have risen to the occasion. I am proud to say that two of the individuals associated with the project are former COB students. This is not an everyday design for an architect. Such a facility requires research and expertise in the field; notwithstanding, this type of facility has been the beneficiary of ever-increasing new technology and knowledge of new technology is most critical to the design process.”
The students, who will be required to write a report on the visit, was the first group outside of the clients to tour the site since construction began in November 2011.
“I think that other groups would definitely benefit from being able to view this project before completion,” said Ms. Flax, “because of its size and the amount of coordination needed. It is a great example of the design and construction process. The walk-through allowed the students to "see" a lot of the construction methods and practices that they've only had the opportunity to hear and read about. It gave them the opportunity to "ask" questions about things they were not familiar with "in the field". Experiences like this are invaluable to a student because it leaves a mark in their memory that would not be achieved solely in theoretical examples.”
The $54 million dollar project is on target to be completed in July of this year with PHA officially taking over the facility in August. It’s the single largest investment in 60 years at the hospital.
With more than 85 percent of the work completed the building is now functioning with electricity and is expected to have more than $20 million in new medical equipment installed over the next four months.
The project, which has tripled in size since its conception, will impact approximately 18 major areas of the hospital bringing state of the art tools to the new facilities. Once completed the 75,000 square foot building with house six state-of-the-art surgical suites, 18 recovery beds, 20 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) rooms, 48 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds, new laboratory facilities, new MSSD and CSSD as well as a new chapel, healing garden and upgraded supporting spaces for the building.