Massive Support – Logistics, Robots, and Even a Power Plant

Massive Support – Logistics, Robots, and Even a Power Plant

Modern business requires modern solutions, some would say. But the argument could be made that futuristic solutions will be the real winners in the long term. That logic has recently been put into practice in Indianapolis, where one of the state’s largest medical organizations is currently building a billion-plus-dollar campus. With the future in mind, IU Health has decided to invest in an innovative adjacent support system to keep their operations running at their best.

Setting aside details about the upcoming hospital for this story, we’re going to take an in-depth look at IU Health’s plans for a new multi-use support building and separate utility plant on its expanding 16th Street campus. Combined, the two will total about $300 million.

These two buildings will defy convention. They’re going to feature autonomous robots that move supplies through logistical tunnels, an advanced power plant, high energy efficiency ratings, and other technical solutions that will meet hospital needs for years to come.


Concealed Autonomous Fleet

The first of the two structures will be the South Support Building, which will sit next to the new hospital currently under construction. One might expect a medical support building to simply contain space for warehousing or storage, but current plans describe a facility unlike any of its contemporaries.

For starters, it will be almost an entire block long and between five to eight levels (yet to be determined). Inside, there will be a large parking area, loading docks, logistics space, room for offices and retail, and a few high-tech helping hands.

For example, supplies and equipment will move back and forth between the hospital and support building’s loading docks via autonomously guided vehicles. These robots will move through utility tunnels and will be largely unseen by patients and visitors, as if the hospital had its own secret staff of elves assisting with day-to-day functions. (Hogwarts, anyone?)

The support building will also connect to the new hospital with a pedestrian bridge. Exterior designs will be compatible with the look of the hospital and other campus structures – a brick and granite base with glass storefronts and a façade of perforated metal paneling on the upper garage levels.

The parking garage will hold between 1,600 to 2,700 parking spots depending on size, along with 200 to 300 bicycles in a mobility hub. Up to 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be available along the Capitol Avenue frontage. Surrounding areas will be designed to be pedestrian-friendly, surrounded by sidewalks and native plants.


Sustainable Power Plant

The second structure will be the new Central Utility Plant, which will be located just south of the support building. Plans describe a state-of-the-art power plant designed for efficiency. The new hospital is going to have a variety of critical energy needs, so the utility building will be fitted with equipment that includes chillers, boilers, heat-recovery coolers, steam for sterilization, fire protection water, and of course backup power generators.

Builders will be targeting LEED silver certification for the utility plant, which means it will meet specific standards for carbon emissions, energy use, waste, materials, and environmental quality. Also, like the support building, the surrounding spaces will be pedestrian-friendly with sidewalks and landscaping.


Extended Local Impact

Local businesses and minority firms will play a big part in the construction of the two support buildings and the overall hospital campus expansion as well. IU Health guidelines call for awarding 30% of the bids on design and construction projects to certified veteran, women, and minority-owned businesses in addition to achieving at least 50% local business participation.

That type of strategy means that many small Hoosier firms will have full workloads and hiring opportunities for quite some time, given the totality of the overall $4.29 billion hospital campus expansion project is expected to take four to five years.


Modern Solutions

These two well-thought-out buildings in development beside the new 16th Street campus are each great examples of Hoosier ingenuity. They’re purpose-built, creative, and will improve business efficiencies for the entire system. In turn, that creates a stronger economic impact for Indiana and ultimately better results for the patients that will one day receive treatment at the hospital. Definitely a modern solution for modern medicine here in our state.



Construction Partners for IU Health’s Support Building and Utility Plant

  • Total Cost: Approximately $300 million, combined
  • Campus Executive Architect: HOK

South Support Building:

Central Utility Plant:

Source: IU Health



By Nick Dmitrovich with info from IU Health.

Images from IU Health. 

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