March 23, 2016

The project team for VCU Health Emergency Department Expansion and Renovation in Richmond, Virginia, received accolades for collaboration and teamwork as well as developing and maintaining safe, quality healthcare environments. 

The team, including VCU Health; HKS, Inc.; WSP + ccrd; Dunbar, Milby, Williams, Pittman and Vaughan; and Barton Malow, were honored with a 2016 Vista Award, in the renovation category, from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the American Hospital Association (AHA). The awards were presented at the 2016 International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction (PDC Summit) in San Diego, California, March 20-23. 

Since 1995, ASHE and AHA have given professionals an opportunity to gain national recognition for their design and construction initiatives through the Vista Awards program. The award recognizes the significance of collaboration in creating optimal healthcare environments. Each winning team has exemplified outstanding teamwork in all stages of their respective healthcare projects, from pre-planning to the final reveal. 

“This is a special acknowledgement for HKS and VCU Health, as this is the second Vista Award we have won together, having been recognized as well for the VCU Health Critical Care Hospital in Richmond,” explains Leslie Hanson, AIA, principal and HKS Richmond office director. “HKS is proud to have received 10 Vista Awards over the years for projects throughout the U.S. It confirms our long-term commitment to building project teams that work together to create outstanding healthcare facilities.” 

The renovation project at VCU Health’s emergency department encompassed more than 67,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of the main hospital. The project was completed in four major phases spanning five years. Two major challenges for the team included first renovating the emergency department—operating 24 hours a day—with minimal disruption, and second, maintaining at least 65 exam rooms available at all times. The team worked to build consensus with hospital and emergency department leaders on a phased plan that would meet those requirements. Midway through the project, a change in the phasing priorities was requested that resulted in a more complex phasing plan and renovation work directly in the middle of the emergency department, splitting it in half. Through strong and effective communication, the team was able to meet this request, and the resequencing allowed the renovated imaging department to open almost a year ahead of schedule. 

“The completed project is reflective of the input from over 300 doctors, nurses and staff of the ED, in addition to hundreds of other doctors, nurses and staff that interact with the ED on a daily basis,” said John Duval, VCU Health CEO. “It was a truly collaborative effort that reached across the entire health system and whose completion exceeded all expectations.” 

A post occupancy evaluation reviewed the functional performance of the space through the triangulation of staff and expert perception, operational data and environmental analysis. Staff turnover decreased by 36 percent in the adult ED. The addition of handrails in exam rooms led to a decrease in patient falls, with no patient falls that can be directly attributed to the building. Patient satisfaction surveys found that the ED exceeded the 85th percentile for excellence over the past 10 quarters. 

ASHE is a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association. More than 11,000 members rely on ASHE as a key source of professional development, industry information and advocacy, including representation on key issues that affect their work in the physical health care environment. 

HKS, Inc. is ranked among the top healthcare architectural firms in the world by Modern Healthcare and BD World Architecture. Operating from 25 offices worldwide, HKS focuses on innovative healthcare design, process and delivery. The firm’s award-winning healthcare architecture includes 3,500 unique projects representing 157,000 beds and 367 million square feet. HKS projects have garnered numerous awards and coverage in worldwide publications. The firm’s healthcare specialists are highly respected international speakers. For more information, contact Sherri Smith at

Posted in Health
Tagged John Duval VCU Health CEO, Leslie Hanson, VCU Health Emergency Department Expansion and Renovation, Vista Award