Transforming the Miami Beach Convention Center Into a Fully Functional Community Field Hospital



Written by

On this week, four years ago, the 250,000 square-foot Miami Beach Convention Center was converted into a 450-bed field hospital, including 400 acute care patient rooms, 50 isolation pods, nursing stations, an onsite laboratory and pharmacy, and support areas… in less than two weeks! The project was part of the Army Corps’ effort to alleviate pressure on local hospitals from the anticipated surges of COVID-19 patients.

What seemed like an impossible feat put the design-build team of Robins & Morton and RLF to the test. RLF mobilized a team of 30 architects, engineers, and medical planners overnight to work onsite in 12-hour shifts, along with an energetic staff working remotely to deliver real-time information 24 hours a day. Robins & Morton engaged more than 20 trade contractors from South Florida. More than 250 people worked on the project in two shifts around the clock.

Turning an exhibit space into a fully functioning hospital was no easy task.  The team had to design and install medical gas lines, duct work, plumbing, electrical and data wiring, and patient room headwalls with communication, equipment, and oxygen connections. More than five miles of copper tubing was used to deliver oxygen to each bed from an 11,000-gallon oxygen tank, 50 miles of electrical cable supported medical equipment in each bay, and 100 miles of Cat 6 cable transferred data to and from medical equipment throughout the facility.

Constant communication and coordination were critical to completing this project on time. RLF used a highly graphical real-time visualization process to inform workers on the ground and coordinate the design team efforts. Having successfully teamed with Robins & Morton on many projects in the past was instrumental in getting this project completed so quickly, along with having the client on-site, which allotted for instantaneous communication and decisions to critical concerns/ questions. By calling on years of healthcare planning and design experience, utilizing an accelerated design-build process, and relying on expedited supply efforts, this project was completed more than a full day ahead of schedule.