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Providence ‘Generations’ Project Fuels Economy

Alaska fares better than Lower 48 counterparts

In early March, I, along with a handful or two of other journalists, stood in the foyer of the Providence Health Park Lobby in the Healing Arts Alcove while looking out on acres of spruce and birch and snow-covered mountains awaiting a big announcement about major campus expansion at Providence Alaska Medical Center called Generations, named in recognition of the Providence commitment to care for generations of Alaskans.

Generations, a $150.3 million project, will expand and modernize the newborn intensive care unit (quadrupling its size), as well as prenatal and mother-baby and labor and delivery units. It also will expand the cardiac surgery program (using the first hybrid technology in the state), as well as renovate other areas of the hospital. That is provided the State approves its certificate of need, which was filed in late February and is hoped to be granted by the end of summer.

The 86,000-square-foot construction project, which includes a new building, and 101,000-square-foot remodel project, is three times the size of any construction work done in the last 11 years at the hospital, and should provide hundreds of construction jobs in various trades to the community over the lifetime of the project.

WORK FOR ALASKANS

The architectural firm designing the project is ZGF out of Seattle, which has extensive experience in health care, according to Kirsten Schultz Brogan with Providence.

RIM Architects, a local firm, will be working on the project with ZGF. And additional local involvement from others is expected as the project progresses. Design work should begin in the fall and construction beginning in January 2011, lasting through December 2014. A general contractor has not been selected, as of mid-March.

FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT GROWTH IN HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

This is good news for Alaskans and good news for the construction industry.

In the Alaska Construction Spending 2010 Forecast, put together by staff at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska for the Construction Industry Progress Fund and the Associated General Contractors of Alaska, hospitals showed a growth of nearly 60 percent in Alaska construction spending for the year, by far the largest percentage of construction growth cited for both private and public sectors.

Total hospital construction spending was estimated to be $221 million in 2010, and included upgrades to Providence, as well as new hospitals in Nome and Barrow. These figures do not reflect the Generations project construction dollars, as construction will not begin this year.

BETTER OFF THAN THE LOWER 48, BY FAR

Ironically, days after the announcement of Generations, the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., nationally, put out a Construction Economic Update that showed nonresidential construction suffered more job losses, nationwide. Since February 2009, the report stated, the nonresidential building construction sector lost more than 101,700 jobs.

Nationwide, the outlook for construction employment looked and remained “bleak” the report stated.

Alaskans are lucky. This project will be a boon to Anchorage, a boon to Alaska and a boon to the construction workers in the state.

This is great news in a time of economic uncertainty.

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