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Aurora Medical Center- Grafton, Wisconsin


This Project has achieved a LEED® Silver CertificationAurora Medical Center - Grafton, Wisconsin

Whether you are standing outside the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin, or looking out a window in the four-story patient tower, the views are spectacular. The layout of the site is such that the patient towers have a beautiful view of the wetland areas, natural vegetation and bridges. It’s just what Aurora Health Care envisioned as part of their commitment to preserving the environment and caring for the patients who come to their facilities for healing.

What was once a vacant site with rolling terrain, pockets of wetlands, and two regional ponds for handling storm water has undergone a major transformation. So how did the project team create a site that preserves the environment and accomplishes Aurora’s mission of providing surroundings that promote the healing process? Here’s what the team did and the challenges they overcame.

Wetlands Preserved, Bridges Add to Aesthetics

Aurora Medical Center - Grafton, WisconsinThe site plan for the medical center was designed with a campus feel that turned site constraints– such as wetlands and storm water ponds – into visual focal points. The development took advantage of the wetlands by preserving them and using them as an amenity. Often, wetland road crossings involve culverts and associated wetland fill.

On this project, however, R.A.Smith National designed two bridges to allow the campus ring road to cross the wetlands without wetland fill.

Extensive collaboration between R.A. Smith National and the building architect produced a bridge design that visually relates to the design of the building.Visible concrete on the structures will be stained to match the surrounding building color scheme.Decorative bridge parapets match the brickwork of the medical center building.

The site included two existing regional storm water ponds which were designed to handle storm water not only for the medical center site but for areas upstream. Site constraints required the relocation of one of the regional storm water ponds and integration of the second regional storm water pond into the overall site storm water plan.Storm water  regulations have changed since the construction of the on-site regional storm water pond years ago, making it necessary to design on-site storm water quality ponds tributary to the regional pond. Six additional storm water treatment ponds were located around the site, instead of one large storm water pond, to better fit the development to the site, and provide visual focal points.

Patient Needs Accommodated

Aurora Medical Center - Grafton, WisconsinSince medical center visitors are often elderly or under the stress of illness, thought was given to making the site easy to navigate by incorporating a ring road and multiple facility entrances dedicated to different medical center functions.

Outdoor mechanical equipment and necessary loading docks were screened to help enhance the calming experience.

The site’s rolling terrain required an innovative grading design to ensure that the parking lots were gently graded for easy patient and visitor use, while still fitting into the existing site.

Aesthetically-pleasing retaining walls were designed to be used extensively throughout the site.

Extensive Permitting Requires Coordination

R.A. Smith National coordinated permitting efforts with the Village of Grafton, Wisconsin; Department of Transportation for improvements made to Highway 60; Ozaukee County for work on North Port Washington Road; Wisconsin Department of Commerce; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and American Transmission Company. The firm also assisted the wetland consultant with wetland permitting, Chapter 30 permitting and permitting for the bridge crossings.

Weekly Team Coordination Assists in Meeting Accelerated Schedule

An accelerated project schedule necessitated ongoing design during the construction of the building. This required a strong communication and coordination effort among all team members. Coordination meetings are being held weekly throughout the entire 24 months of the project.

Key team members, among others, included R.A. Smith National (civil engineering and surveying), Brookfield, Wis.; Hammes Company (developer), Brookfield, Wis.; Albert Kahn Associates, Inc. (architect), Detroit; and Mortenson Construction (general contractor), Milwaukee. R.A.Smith National provided sitework engineering, construction staking, surveying, and construction engineering services.

The Aurora Medical Center development rests on 65 acres of an overall 120-acre site at the northwest corner of I-43 and State Highway 60 in Grafton, Wis. The development consists of an 89-bed hospital with an attached medical office building and an orthopaedic clinic – a total of 520,000 square feet.

This site is master planned to accommodate additional development in the future.

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