High-Performance Tilt Up

A ground-up medical office building pushes the envelope of tilt-up construction to create an efficient, cost-effective facility that fits the community.

The healthcare industry’s rapid growth is driving demand for efficient, easily constructed medical office buildings (MOB) that represent the provider’s brand and standards.

For MemorialCare, a nonprofit health system, LPA designed a replicable model for quickly delivering a high-performance building that serves the needs of tenants and fits into the community. Using traditional tilt-up techniques, the building met the budget requirements, reduced energy use and created a welcoming environment for people visiting the caregivers.

The site is part of a retail complex in Rancho Mission Viejo, California, where local guidelines overlie an agrarian theme on all development. The shopping center and surrounding projects all address the farming aesthetic in different ways, with varying degrees of success.

We were able to demonstrate that tilt-up would not only meet their budgetary needs, but also look great and meet the requirements of the architectural review board of the area.

A welcoming feel extends to the interior, where large windows provide abundant natural light.

LPA and MemorialCare had worked on several projects together, but this was the first ground-up MOB. Early in the process, LPA designers and MemorialCare settled on tilt-up as the best strategy to address the company’s goals. But there was understandable reluctance, given the boxy, inflexible results of most tilt-up designs.

“We were able to demonstrate that tilt-up would not only meet their budgetary needs, but also look great and meet the requirements of the architectural review board of this area,” D’Amato says.

The red metal façade and gabled roof help the building blend with its retail neighbors and surrounding residences.

The building fits into the agrarian theme with a barn-style roof, wood accents and a red-metal façade on one wall. Other elements represent MemorialCare’s core-and-shell design and brand, including the welcoming entrance. Mechanicals are hidden from the roof line, and the abstraction of the farmhouse makes it a comfortable neighbor to the retail space and surrounding residential neighborhoods.

“It fits the rural aesthetic they were after,” LPA Managing Director Damon Dusterhoft says.

The form was constructed using concrete tilt-up panels of identical size and proportion. The panels were designed as shear walls and detailed as moment frame, with more openings and light than typical tilt-up designs. The building was simple to construct, required limited formwork and fit the budget guidelines.

The design provides functionality and efficiency and ensures that the building fits well into the community.

“Because of the shape of the panels, there are a lot of repetitions,” says LPA Director of Structural Engineering Daniel Wang. “The contractor was able to build it faster and easier and reduce costs.”

The structural design also incorporated the gable-style roof, which helped the new building blend with the surrounding neighborhood. The shaded entrance creates a connection to the outdoors, an added benefit. Large windows let plenty of natural light into the interiors.

“The building has a lot of variation that you wouldn’t normally have in a typical tilt-up,” Dusterhoft says. “It shows the building can be tilt-up and still have style.”

Wood, light and other design features make patients feel comfortable and support the client’s brand.

In many ways, the building is a simple project. But it provides an example of LPA’s “every project, every budget, every scale” approach. An integrated team of architects, engineers and interior designers came together early in the process to address the client’s goals and challenges, developing an innovative answer to the construction and budget issues. The building achieved a 54% reduction in energy use through largely passive techniques.

The final result offers MemorialCare the functionality and efficiency it needed in the MOB, while fitting into the community and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for patients.