Rich Liekweg, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, presents an overview of a 10-year capital building project at a May 5 community forum sponsored by the Central West End Association.
photo by Diana Linsley
(click for larger version)
May 09, 2012Two buildings east of Kingshighway – including the venerable Queeny Tower – will be demolished and replaced as part of a 10-year capital building project announced by Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Rich Liekweg, president of the hospital, told members of the Central West End Association on May 5 that the improvements were necessary to improve the experience of both patients and the facility's 20,000 employees.
"We have to be more efficient in the way we deliver care," Liekweg said.
Liekweg would not divulge cost estimates for the project, but did say no public funds would be sought for the project. He did say, however, that a new interchange at Interstate 64 and Boyle Avenue – which will double the major access routes to and from the hospital campus – will use state and federal dollars.
The first phase of the project, expected to be completed in five to six years, will focus on the north side of the campus, where the former Schoenberg School of Nursing, dedicated in 1929, will be razed to make way for an expansion of Children's Hospital. At the same time, Barnes-Jewish will relocate its obstetrics unit closer to Children's Hospital.
Phase two of the project will focus on the south side of the campus, where Queeny Tower will be demolished and replaced with a new, perhaps shorter, building. When completed around 2021, the percentage of private rooms at the hospital will have increased from 30 percent to over 80 percent, Liekweg said.
In addition to the new buildings, 2,400 new parking spaces will be built, many underground.
Highland Park, the green space and tennis courts east of Kingshighway, are not included in the expansion plans, Liekweg said.
One attendee at Saturday's meeting questioned the need to destroy Queeny Tower, the 19-story landmark that was completed in 1965, along with the former nursing building. But Liekweg said the small amount of available space at the medical center required sacrifices. He said other buildings may be demolished as well.
An architect is expected to be hired this summer, Liekweg said.
Arthur Culbert, vice president of the CWEA, said he was pleased with the presentation. He said the hospital's plans were well thought out and were respectful of the West End's residents.
"It's a testimonial to BJC," he said. "They want to be helpful."