Aging baby boomers are placing a growing demand on our healthcare system. As a result, healthcare property construction projects are in a boom. Of the broad healthcare property categories: hospitals, senior living, and medical office buildings (MOB’s) – the medical office building group has been growing the fastest. New MOB square footage grew at an average of 15% from 2014 through 2017. Demand for MOB space is still exceeding supply, so this trend is likely to continue for at least a few more years.
In this paper we will dive into the special structural engineering challenges associated with MOB’s. As with all healthcare projects, flexibility for the future use of the space is an important consideration for the design team. MOB’s, in particular, are often delivered in two phases. The first phase being a core and shell package, and the second being tenet improvements (finishes). We will discuss strategies for success with this delivery method. Code minimum design loads are often insufficient for heavy imaging equipment. X-rays, MRI’s, and CT’s may have special requirements for vibration response, structure levelness, and magnetic limitations.
We will also discuss lighting booms, cryovent discharge supports, and high-density filing systems. The associated special loading and strict stiffness restrictions require very precise deflection calculations. Consider that equipment locations may be unknown to the engineer during the design of the building core and shell, and you can see that MOB’s present real challenges for a design team. We will suggest appropriate design assumptions and highlight best engineering practices for successful MOB design.