Chapter 25: The Alkek Hospital Addition: A Very Difficult Project

Title

Chapter 25: The Alkek Hospital Addition: A Very Difficult Project

Files

Loading...

Media is loading
 

Description

To close off the interview, Mr. Daigneau shares an anecdote he notes is "the closest I can come to a funny story." He describes touring the Alkek Hospital construction site with Gary Campbell just after arriving at MD Anderson. The columns were just being poured and Mr. Daigneau asked why they were so large. Campbell replied that the building was designed to take an additional ten floors. Mr. Daigneau notes that all diagnostic imaging was on the third floor and all the main operating rooms were located on the fifth floor" these functions would be very sensitive to vibration caused by such a construction project. He said at the time, "I pity the poor son of a gun given the task of building the ten stories." Mr. Daigneau then tells the story of how it was decided to add the ten stories. He explains how a vibration specialist determined it could be done and then gives details of the construction and its challenges. The process took three years 'one year of sorting out details and two for construction.

Identifier

DaigneauW_02_20131004_C25

Publication Date

10-4-2013

Publisher

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Building the Institution; The Administrator; MD Anderson History; Institutional Processes; Overview; Definitions, Explanations, Translations; Discovery and Success; Building/Transforming the Institution; Growth and/or Change; Obstacles, Challenges; Professional Practice; The Professional at Work; Funny Stories

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Is there anything else you would like to add?

William Daigneau, MBA:

One parting building story, and that was the addition to the Alkek Tower. So the Dr. Murphy said, Tell him to tell funny stories." This is the closest I've come to a funny story. So back in '94" I told you I got to Anderson, and the major building projects" the original Alkek Tower was just starting construction. So they were putting in the foundation and the columns. By the way, Alkek is on what's on a mat foundation" the mat that sits on is six-foot thick. The reason why it has a mat foundation is because in Houston, there is no bedrock like in New York. So they" in order to build high rises in Houston, they created a design of these very large mats that basically form" instead of piles form the basis of the foundation for high rise buildings. So as I said, my degree was in a combination of structural engineering and mechanical engineering. So I understand structural design. So I'm touring" arrived on campus, they're starting to form the columns coming off the slab" just poured slab" the mat foundation, and they were starting to form the columns coming off that slab. I'm looking at these column forms, and I said to the guy" the Anderson guy, Gary Kimbrell, who's running the project. I said, Why are these columns so big? Is this earthquake territory?" Because normally you see them only that size" and Alkek was going to be basically ten stories tall for earthquake reasons" for a ten-story building? So Gary Kimbrell says to me, Oh, no. The building has been designed to take another ten stories eventually." I said, Really?" Now the original Alkek, you have to know" the first phase of that building contained" on the third floor is all diagnostic imaging equipment" MRs. MRs are very sensitive to vibration. Obviously you don't want a lot of shaking going on in the building, that's why most MRs on the ground floor, because the higher up you go in the building, the more it shakes and the more it interferes with the operation of the imaging. On the fifth floor is all of the main operating rooms of MD Anderson that used advanced robotics and equipment" all of it extremely vibration sensitive. Well, when I arrived at Anderson, I knew enough about this building and what was going in it to recognize that if you attempted to add ten more floors on an existing building containing your ORs and all of your sensitive laboratory medicine equipment as well as imaging equipment, that that was going to be nightmare" constructing ten more stories. So at the time, I said to Gary Kimbrell, I pity the poor son of a gun who is given that assignment to add ten more stories to this hospital!" If it had been up to me, I would have built all twenty stories at the same time and just shell the top ten. He laughed, and he said, Yeah, I agree with you." But goes to show you the inexperience of the original planners, because they had never constructed anything, so they thought, Well, we'll just put in these foundations, and we can always add on later," not knowing how difficult that was going to be. So fast forward" I'm still at Anderson. Up until Anderson, I had only stayed at most places seven or eight years. Basically, I got to a point where I wanted new challenges. Well, I'm still at Anderson at seven or eight years. Ten years, I'm still at Anderson. Twelve years, I'm still at Anderson. All of the sudden" oh, my goodness. How are we going to increase the number of hospital rooms? So I told everyone this story about" that was the stupidest thing to ever do" build a hospital with foundations for ten stories when you could never build on. So everyone was aware of that story. So I went to a Facility Steering Committee with our agenda. At the end of the Facility Steering Committee, Dr. Mendelsohn turns to me and said, Bill, I've been talking with Dr. Burke here, and I know you've been working with him to look at options to increase inpatient care, but we kind of feel that probably the best choice right now is to go ahead and add those ten stories to Alkek." (laughs)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

(laughs) What you had" must been the early 2000s.

William Daigneau, MBA:

But" so I tried to explain to him the difficulty of doing that, and of course, he had great confidence in me by then and said, Well, go ahead and work through some of these issues and bring them back to us." So we actually went out" well, we hired a vibration consultant, because I was afraid" in the process of pouring concrete and erecting steel would shake the building. So we hired a vibration consultant. This guy came out of California, had done work for primarily the high-tech chip makers, where they have these clean rooms and vibration" because they work with very small pieces. He had a great resume in terms of vibration studies, brought them out" actually came out to look at the hospital. We're standing there" after I even looked at his resume, he said, Jeeze, I've never done a hospital before." (laughs) There was nobody any better. Nobody had ever faced this issue before in terms of healthcare, so it's not like there was 100 consultants in vibration analysis on existing structure.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Who was the consultant?

William Daigneau, MBA:

I can't remember his name. But anyway, we put all these sensors throughout the building. They had what they called thumpers. They put them on the top of the columns of the building, and they basically bang, and we scheduled that with" coordinate that with Anderson staff when the best time to do this thumping was" surgery and all that. Measured all the vibrations through the structure. To my dismay, he concluded that we could do it. (laughs)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

(laughs) Sorry! I don't mean to laugh.

William Daigneau, MBA:

So next then was" we're lifting steel and concrete above an existing hospital, and you drop a load of steel, rebar" goes right through the roof like a spear, so we had to develop a plan" a safety plan of how we were going to lift things" how we were going to protect the existing building. Then there was the" the original Alkek" the idea was" they left" there was a vacant elevator shaft in the original Alkek designed where a tower crane would go up to it. Well, that's great. How do you get the tower crane in there? You have to lift sections of" you've seen tower cranes. They have the big box shape" steel box shape. You have to lift those sections up to the top of the roof, and then lower them down inside the building. So we had to work all of that out, brought one of the largest crawler cranes in the world on site to lift the sections of truck" tower crane into place.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

What's a tower crane?

William Daigneau, MBA:

It's a crawler crane.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh, crawler crane.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Yeah, it's basically" has the big treads on it.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh, right, right.

William Daigneau, MBA:

It looks like this. So yeah" the world's largest sitting in front of Alkek to lift this thing into place. All right. You say, Well, that's great, but now you've built up a building that's now twenty stories tall. How do you get the thing out?" (laughs) So we worked through all those issues" every one of them" painstakingly worked through every issue. I finally went back" again, to my dismay" to Dr. Mendelsohn, to the Facility Steering Committee and said, Well, we can do it." So that led to another" doubling the size of the Alkek Hospital.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Uh-hunh (affirmative). How long did that project take?

William Daigneau, MBA:

That was about two years.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh, so that's actually" for all the details you needed to work out"

William Daigneau, MBA:

Well, that's after all those details" those details took about a year to work out.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Okay, so it was like a year for details and then a year to actually construct?

William Daigneau, MBA:

Yeah.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Well, I'm glad you added that story.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Yeah, that was my funny story.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

That was your funny story.

William Daigneau, MBA:

And I tell people, That's the penalty of hanging around too long."

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

(laughs) Well, is there anything else that you'd like to add?

William Daigneau, MBA:

No, I enjoyed talking with you.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

I enjoyed it, too.

William Daigneau, MBA:

You're a very good interviewer.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Thank you. Thank you.

William Daigneau, MBA:

I enjoyed having you up here in the ski resort.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh, it was my pleasure" even got my fix for snow! (laughs)

William Daigneau, MBA:

(laughs) Yeah, I'll get your picture!

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Well, thank you very much again, and it's been really a pleasure talking to you. As I said earlier, I think this is really an interesting and important addition to the interview collection, because I don't think people" like most people, they don't think of it until there's a complaint, and then they call someone" most people look at MD Anderson and they don't think about" what's the process that brought these buildings into existence and all the services that keep it running and key all of those have been to allowing the people there to serve the mission of the institution. This has really been a great perspective to add. Thank you so much.

William Daigneau, MBA:

You're welcome.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

I'm turning off the recorder at 11:30. (End of Audio Session Two)

Chapter 25: The Alkek Hospital Addition: A Very Difficult Project

Share

COinS