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Reprinted from Industry Dive

  • Massachusetts General Hospital’s $1 billion expansion in Boston is set to include design features that will allow the hospital to serve as a refuge for staff and patients for as long as four days following a natural or man-made disaster and other emergency events, according to Boston 25 News.
  • Design for the addition is in progress, and architect Joan Saba, a partner at NBBJ, told Boston 25 that her firm is considering every worst-case scenario for the structure, using case studies based on healthcare facilities that functioned during and after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
  • Sally Mason Boemer, senior vice president of administration and finance at Mass General, said the hospital also is flood-proofing existing buildings, a process that includes relocating critical functions to upper floors and using protective coatings on windows and doors.

Dive Insight:

Mass General must still raise the money to pay for the new structure, which will be at least 12 stories and provide 450-plus beds. The building also will feature cancer and heart centers, operating and exam rooms and other patient services.

The Partners HealthCare network, which includes Mass General, has been working to institute resiliency measures across its more than 30 facilities, according to Partners’ Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston was the city’s first waterfront building to be designed to combat the effects of climate change; it was built at 30 inches above the 500-year floodplain and has large granite berms to block floodwaters. It also features redundant HVAC systems, triple-paned glass, extra insulation, light-colored concrete to reflect sunlight and natural ventilation and lighting.

It’s important that hospitals continue functioning — even under the bleakest of circumstances — because of the nature of the services they provide, particularly if there is a chance of a high-injury rate in the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake in California did an estimated $3 billion in damage to hospitals, so the state enacted legislation that established seismic requirements for healthcare facilities and also requires certain hospitals to upgrade, some by 2020 and others by 2030, depending on their level of structural performance.

But the construction upgrade requirements, especially for smaller hospitals in rural areas of the state, have been financially burdensome for some facility owners. A merger with a larger system, according to The Bakersfield Californian, is the only way that some of these cash-strapped healthcare providers can afford to make the necessary renovations, as well as critical investments in new technology.

Japan Airlines began nonstop flights to Tokyo in 2012 and has since been joined by other foreign carriers Cathay Pacific, to Hong Kong, El Al, to Tel Aviv, and LATAM to São Paulo. Emirates, which already offers nonstop service to Dubai, will begin utilizing the A380 — the world’s largest passenger airliner — at Logan, which rebuilt a portion of Terminal E to accommodate the plane.

“If you’re an internationally minded company, Boston is a significantly better fit than it would have been 10 years ago,” Stewart said.

Royal Air Maroc was also recently approved to begin flying between Boston and Casablanca, Morocco — Logan’s first destination on the African continent — later this year. Massport, which oversees Logan, has taken note and is essentially rebuilding the airport with a nod toward all its success.

A 400K SF addition to Terminal E will deliver seven new international gates in a building meant to be a “new city icon,” according to notes from a January Massport briefing session. Terminals B and C are getting significant makeovers, including a post-security connector to improve passenger flow between the two terminals. The terminal optimization plan is meant to accommodate growth on the international front as well as domestic additions from JetBlue, Logan’s largest airline tenant, and Delta.

Further down the line, a $1.5B automatic people-mover running to each of the terminals, parking and rental car facilities and the on-site MBTA Blue Line station are meant to push passengers away from their cars and onto public transportation.

“Massport seems to be doing everything it can to improve the access to the airport,” Stewart said. “In the very long-term, that could mean removing cars from having curbside drop-offs at the terminal.”

The Ted Williams Tunnel to the airport was added as part of the Big Dig to relieve congestion in the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. The addition of a highway exit in the Seaport made that neighborhood what Stewart calls Boston’s “de facto airport office park,” as it is a 10-minute drive from Logan.

Companies like Reebok, GE and Amazon have flocked to the Seaport, citing its access to the airport as a key component in deciding to sign a lease.

But Logan’s ability to attract big business has also made tunnel traffic a routine part of the trek to Logan. Massport, which didn’t respond to Bisnow‘s request for comment for this story, has indicated in meetings it is taking congestion seriously.

In exchange for approval to add more parking at the airport, Massport will pay for eight new Silver Line buses to carry passengers between Logan and South Station. The agency is also looking to boost ridership on water taxis to the airport, expand Logan Express service to the suburbs and even limit curbside drop-offs to high-occupancy vehicles.

Considering the airport has added 10 million passengers in the last five years, continuing to maximize efficiencies will be critical to maintain growth, both at the airport and for the businesses it helps Boston attract.

“This is all to continue the momentum of the economic game change we’ve already been seeing,” Stewart said. “That’s the story of the day.”

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