PCS Stories: South Sound Behavioral Hospital

2018

The South Sound Behavioral Hospital will bring 108 much-needed new beds for psychiatric health services to Lacey, WA. What was PCS’s approach to this project?
This project is actually an adaptive reuse of an existing 1980s office building which required extensive seismic upgrades. The owner wanted to save costs by letting the seismic retrofit drive the final design, so we realized that determining the pressing questions early on was key to leveraging this approach.
With early facilitation of retrofit options with the building department—leveraging our longstanding relationship with the agency—we knew we could achieve an early structural permit, fueling an aggressive project schedule. This was particularly key for the out-of-state developer.
 
How did you achieve that early structural permit?
We reached out to the building official at the City of Lacey to discuss our process. After we gave him our preliminary scope, we coordinated a meeting at 60 percent progress to show how our design had evolved, followed by a permit intake. At that point, if everything was similar to our 60-percent progress drawings, he told us that he could approve our structural permit in 48 hours or less.
We pushed a lot of work through in a short amount of time and came to the permit intake meeting at 95 percent construction documents. The building official was impressed with our presentation and how little our retrofit approach had changed between 60 percent and 95 percent. Both those factors enabled him to approve the permit almost immediately.
 
How did the early permit affect the construction process?
The structural permit was approved a full two months ahead of the building permit, which enabled the contractor to get an early start on shop drawings, groundwork, foundations and slab strengthening. Our proactive work provided added value by buying back some time in the schedule.
 
What was your bold solution to retrofit this building within the budget and schedule constraints?
The existing building was constructed very economically with a braced frame structure. To save costs and replace the braced frames with a safer, more resilient system, we “cut” the building in two to seismically isolate each half and redirect load. Then we replaced the braced frames with one strategically placed concrete wall, which balanced the force distribution across the separate buildings.
 
What tools did you take away from this project?
We learned that it’s possible to achieve a tight schedule by engaging early in discussions with the permitting jurisdiction. With early research and maintaining a consistent retrofit strategy, we achieved an “over-the-counter” structural permit on a $25 million hospital.  This early structural focus and intensity added significant value by providing more time and flexibility for the broader design team.
 
 
Todd Parke is an Associate Principal with PCS and has been with the firm since 2006. As one of PCS’s Healthcare Team leaders, his extensive background in hospital and medical office design informs his efforts to expand the firm’s healthcare market presence across the Northwest.