Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas

Austin, Texas

Dell Children's Medical Center enables healing for both patients and the environment.

Driven by the client’s desire to achieve LEED platinum-level certification—unprecedented for an inpatient hospital—the design for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas began with a distinct vision and commitment to significantly reduce the negative impact of the building on its occupants and the environment. 

Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas
Photo © John Durant Photography

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Part of a 722-acre new urbanist development on the brownfield site of a former municipal airport, the planning approach split the site diagonally into town-country, and diagnostic and treatment-inpatient dualities.  Positioned in the southern part of the site, the distinctly shaped three-story nursing units offer views of the surrounding healing garden and adjacent park, as well as vistas of Austin’s skyline. The two to four-level diagnostic and treatment components are organized as generic and flexible blocks on a 64-foot square module and are intended to mesh into the surrounding density of the zero setback development.

Inspired by historic examples of Texas’ Mission architecture, the blocks are pierced by six courtyards, which serve as visual cues for wayfinding. The building’s primary circulation system is organized around the crossing of two axes, the Wood Wall, and the Rock Wall. As Cardo and Decumanus, the lobby and visitor elevators are located at this important crossing, overlooking a four-story central healing courtyard. 

The hospital distinguishes itself by deploying strategies designed to reuse, recycle and conserve, the most sosphisticated of which is in energy production and usage. A 4.5 megawatt natural gas-fired Combined Cooling Heating Power Plant (CCHP) provides consistent electrical power, critical to operating high-tech equipment at 70 percent greater efficiency than a comparable coal-fired plant. Steam, a by-product, is used in absorption chillers to supply chilled water for the hospital and surrounding buildings. 

Other sustainable features include using the courtyards as the lungs of the building to provide cooler, cleaner fresh air to the many air-handling units distributed throughout the hospital, and as a primary source of natural light, contributing to daylight in 60 percent of spaces unrestricted by medical demands. The hospital also achieves a 35 percent reduction in potable water use by using reclaimed water for landscape, and uses low flow plumbing fixtures, motion sensor lighting controls and under floor air distribution where possible. Other recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, such as low VOC paints and adhesives, wheatboard casework, linoleum flooring, and recycled carpet and ceiling tiles, combine to provide central Texas with a unique healing environment that is trend-setting both in its design and its commitment to the environment.

Formal name of project: Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas

Location: Austin, Texas

Gross square footage: 473,000 sq.ft.

Total construction cost: $137,000,000

Completion Date: July 2007

Seton Health Care Network

99 East Main Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-5115
614.461.9500 (t)
614.461.6324 (f)

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