More accessible, welcoming hospital is goal, UI officials report to regents

Construction on the $285 million UI Children's Hospital is set to begin in October

AMES — Removing a parking ramp at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and replacing it with underground parking is part of the effort to make the hospital campus and planned new patient facilities more open to natural light, accessible and welcoming, hospital officials told state regents Monday.

During the state Board of Regents meeting in Ames, UI Hospitals leaders presented an update on the new UI Children’s Hospital, which is in the planning stages, and the first update in about a year on the hospital’s long-range facilities plan.

Changes to the master plan in the last few years have been aimed at creating a more accessible campus, UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean Robillard said. With upcoming facility additions and hospital campus changes, UI officials want to address problems with parking, the entrance and way-finding, and to bring more landscaping and green space to the west side of campus, he said.

“There is a way now to make it more accessible, to make it more welcoming than it is presently,” Robillard said.

Construction on the $285 million UI Children’s Hospital is set to begin in October, with opening planned for early 2016, officials said. The long-range master plan also calls for the eventual construction of two towers that will house patient rooms. The plan calls for those three new facilities to be built directly west of the existing hospital complex. The site is where parking ramp No. 2 now sits; that will be razed and replaced with underground parking to make room for the new towers.

Within the next year, the entrance road into the hospital complex that runs east to west just north of the Pomerantz Family Pavilion — a road that now dead-ends at a building — will be extended to South Grand Avenue to improve car circulation at the hospital campus, UI officials said Monday.

The changes will visually open up the hospital entrance and make access easier than it is now, Robillard said.

The design of the Children’s Hospital will increase capacity by about 20 percent, to about 200 beds. It will have 11 floors above ground — two of which will be shelled in as space for future expansion — and two below ground, officials said.

Kim Stanley, an architect working on the new Children’s Hospital, said it will be a “very smart building technologically,” with a focus on natural light, noise reduction techniques and useful spaces for children and their families.

Regents President Craig Lang said officials are pleased with how the hospital plans are progressing.

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