There are many success stories about the reuse and redevelopment of older structures, but is it possible to repurpose a new building that was abandoned halfway through construction? After a small, private hospital project folded due to financing difficulties, a half-finished building languished for eight months, its fate uncertain. Then, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center stepped in, building the UT Southwestern Monty and Tex Moncrief Medical Center at Fort Worth on the bones of the original project.
Located in the Near Southside district of Fort Worth, the project was originally a 32-bed, private hospital with an eclectic design, developed for a doctor’s group from Houston. The building would include an ICU, imaging facilities and a multi-room surgery suite, with construction beginning in late 2013. Originally designed to conform to the Near Southside design standards and guidelines, the planned building featured a brick façade with punched windows, a cast stone base, lintels and cornice. A metal roofed cupola was the focal point over the diagonal entry.
The halt of construction was sudden and violent, with many staged materials deserted on-site amidst tools and scaffolding. The steel frame was topped out, along with the cupola, and some exterior sheathing had been installed. The roof and some roof top mechanical equipment were completed, and major mechanical and plumbing lines were in the process of being installed.
Following the abrupt stop, the project sat idle for eight months, exposed to the elements. Fortunately, there was minimal vandalism and theft of building materials stored on site. UT Southwestern acquired the property in this condition, with the intention of transforming it into a multi-specialty medical clinic with a contemporary vision for what the exterior should look like.
Completed in 2014, UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute is located about five blocks to the south of the acquired construction site. A successful facility, the Moncrief Cancer Institute won several design awards, including the Texas Society of Architects’ Design Award. It has been a catalyst for redevelopment in the Near Southside area and has become a brand identity for UT Southwestern.
The client desired the new property to align with the successful and established identity of the Moncrief Cancer Institute. Kaim Associates, the medical center’s architect of record, teamed with HKS, the architect of the Moncrief Cancer Institute, to create a design that utilized the partially completed construction. The new design’s exterior is comprised of terra cotta tiles, metal panels and curtainwalls with sunscreen fins.
Significant construction and design issues had to be solved to complete this transformation. Reuse of the existing structure and equipment was a priority, but eight months of uncontrolled environmental exposure had serious impacts. The fireproofing of the steel, required by the I-2 occupancy of the hospital, had seriously degraded and was even missing in many areas. Other major issues included the testing and removal of mechanical and plumbing construction that was already installed.
The owner and architects working together overcame these obstacles, and the new building is firmly connected to the established brand of the Moncrief Cancer Institute. Compatible with redevelopment standards of the Near Southside area, the UT Southwestern Monty and Tex Moncrief Medical Center at Fort Worth brings life back, not only to an abandoned construction site, but also to Fort Worth’s neglected warehouse district.