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Aurora Medical Center - Grafton, Wisconsin

Aurora Medical Center - Grafton, Wisconsin The Aurora Medical Center in the Village of Grafton is a new 500,000-square-foot, $254 million hospital and medical office building, located on a 120-acre campus. R.A. Smith National provided sitework engineering from the conceptual site designs through construction. R.A. Smith National worked with the developer and architect to obtain initial approvals on the site. Entitlement work included conceptual site layouts, parking lot layout and circulation designs and alternatives, conceptual stormwater design including off-site storm water, conceptual utlity infrastructure designs and alternatives, adjacent highway improvement design, coordination with the village and presentations to the public. 

After the initial approvals, R.A. Smith National prepared detailed site, parking lot, grading, sanitary sewer, water main, storm sewer, pond, offsite road, bridge, retaining wall, helipad and storm water managment plans for final approvals and construction, and provided construction engineering services, including site visits, RFI responses, and submittal reviews. Throughout the project there was extensive communication with the team using weekly design and construction conference calls and RFI/submittal tracking software to expedite the construction of the project. Permiting involved the Village of Grafton, Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Ozaukee County, WisDOT, ATC, DNR, and DCOM.  Survey work ranged from initial topography to CSMs, easement descriptions, layout staking and as-built surveys.

The owner desired a LEED certified project, and R.A.Smith National was responsible for identifying possible sustainable sites LEED points, participating in team LEED design meetings, recommending which sustainable sites points could be obtained within the site constraints, designing to LEED specific standards and documenting the points with LEED-Online.

Aurora Medical Center - Grafton, Wisconsin The existing site challenges included rolling terrain, multiple pockets of wetland areas, a navigable stream, and two existing regional storm water ponds. The medical center site plan was designed with a campus feel, and fit within the site constraints with extensive use of retaining walls and two bridges to help avoid wetland fill, 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. 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 from patient rooms. Parking lots were distributed around the site and sized based on the anticipated use at each adjacent hospital entrance, to get patients to their destination more easily. A ring road was provided to enhance vehicular circulation, and a mile long walking path was designed for recreation as well as connectivity to the adjacent village sidewalks.  The driveway for the emergency room was positioned to avoid possible ambulance/patient conflicts. To expedite the approval process and minimize impact to the wetlands, R.A. Smith National designed two highway-grade bridges as part of the ring road, matching the architectual style of the medical center. High tension power lines crossed the edge of the site, and site and grading designs adjacent to these lines required substantial coordination with the owner, American Transmission Company.

Given the site’s complex nature – with wetland pockets and large grade changes – conceptual planning for the campus went beyond the 70-acre first phase immediately adjacent to the medical center, to include possible building layouts for the rest of the 120-acre campus. This planning effort was taken far enough into design to estimate final development pad areas, feasibility of gravity sanitary sewer, estimated earthwork balance, extent of necessary retaining walls and future building first floor elevations. 

Most projects experience some level of change as the project progresses, but in this case, due to the addition of a whole new department to the hospital building after construction was started, there were major changes to part of the site late in the process. These changes included resizing of a parking lot, realignment of the ring road, and creation of a new pond and parking lot in a newly aquired adjacent lot. Despite these changes, the project-design schedule stayed on track.

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