John Cochran VA Medical Center



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How do you design and phase a replacement hospital twice the size of the existing facility on a tight urban site without disturbing ongoing operations?

For 75 years the existing Veterans Hospital in St. Louis has occupied 11 acres on five separate blocks immediately north of the St. Louis Arts District. Because the original hospital’s footprint covering these 11 acres was somewhat disjointed in a “saw-toothed” pattern, parts of the site were deemed unusable and too small for expansion needs.

In response to the recommendations made by the RLF team, the VA successfully acquired the adjacent, underutilized parcels of land, reshaping the property to create a more uniform 24.5-acre site well-suited to efficiently accommodate the VA’s program through a logically phased sequence.

Unique design features of the replacement hospital include:

• Existing inpatient functions will be relocated to the new bed tower, and several services will be brought back on site, including primary care, women’s health, and outpatient mental health. The new facilities will create opportunity for services not currently offered at the St. Louis JC Division Medical Center, such as acute inpatient, medical, substance abuse and spinal cord injury.

• A new secure boundary integrates existing walking paths with new pocket parks and artwork, effectively establishing a gateway entrance into the St. Louis Central Arts District. This reconfigured layout significantly expands the amount of open green space on the site, increasing it by 300%.

• A new inpatient and outpatient Spinal Cord Injury Unit (SCI) will provide therapeutic gardens for outpatient use and a garden terrace on the second level for the 30-room inpatient unit. Prototypical same-handed nested inpatient bedrooms will provide direct access to the terrace and secure views with natural light.

• A new surgical center with a flexible interventional platform is located on the fourth level providing a direct horizontal connection to the existing facility. Roof monitors will provide natural light into the recovery areas. Four levels of new inpatient bed wings with adjoining clinical support are provided above the diagnostic and treatment block.

• A unique "epidemic mode" engineering system, combined with a network of designated areas, will establish secure and isolated clean air systems during a building’s occupied period to reduce risk of infection from aerosolized particles. This setup offers a robust and adaptable lockdown system that can gradually respond to emerging and declining biological threats in the future.

• The new facility will be earthquake and tornado resistant providing enhanced resiliency.

• A solar energy system will be mounted on the roofs of the parking structures attributing to the projected LEED Silver rating.