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Case Study : Healthcare :

Emory University Hospital, J-Wing Addition

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The original vision for Emory University Hospital’s expansion was to meet patient demand and increase overall revenue by adding an outpatient tower; however, unforeseen circumstances changed the nature of the building from inception to completion, in the end extending the life span of the project. During this ten-year timeframe, the team encountered several challenges: The Great Recession, the Ebola crisis, executive turnover, and the ramifications of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Together, these changes had a profound impact on the expansion, ultimately shaping the building’s design and function. In every instance, our BDR team took the adversity and turned it into opportunity, and at the end of the day, achieved the program requirements. We delivered under budget while creating a completely unique hybrid facility for Emory University Hospital that serves as both an inpatient care clinic and an outpatient facility.

Overcoming each challenge within this project required creative and flexible solutions that emphasized communication and a forward-thinking attitude. With each executive came a new vision, opinion, and relationship. The Ebola crisis put Emory in the news as the first US hospital to treat a victim, thereby forcing decision-makers to focus on media communications instead of the project’s progress. Meanwhile, the Great Recession tightened budgets and restricted movement in numerous ways, making it clear that the space needed to be reimagined. Finally, the Affordable Healthcare Act affected all national healthcare systems. It became more crucial than ever to deliver projects on time and within budget. The changing legislation also affected the revenue streams associated with insurance payers, which demanded that the building program effectively adapt and respond.

The site, located in the middle of a tight and crowded area, was also challenging. In addition, the hospital continued to see patients every day, which required continuity of services with no interruption of care. All the while, at BDR, we were faced with a question: how do we connect the new building to the old buildings in a way that allows movement and avoids confusion? We are proud to say we significantly achieved this, finding creative ways to work within our confines, and confronting all challenges with flexibility and adaptive strategies. In each case, we delivered excellence through our four pillars: precise management, maximizing ROI, technological integration, and collaborative engagement. Regardless of the challenge, our BDR team adjusted as needed and proactively planned for Emory’s future.

BDR Solution

To provide the greatest ROI for this project, we encouraged Emory to focus on radiology. With this strategy in place, Emory could create expansion opportunities by growing these existing services that tie to patient experience. With many experienced construction managers and architects on our team, we were able to fortify Emory with robust industry knowledge in a way that ensured effective planning and the ability to achieve desired results. The expansion’s quality also shows an exponential leap in terms of care and equipment. Emory was able to raise their level of clinical practice, no longer constrained by the physical restrictions of the facility.

Collaboration was this project’s hallmark as the team seamlessly aligned varying viewpoints. As a teaching hospital, there were several departments and personnel involved with this expansion. From instructors to nurses to janitors, everyone had a voice to contribute, and our BDR team was careful to listen. To accommodate the different opinions, we held large meetings with a goal of driving consensus. The strategy was to combine thoughts and opinions in a way that gave the project a holistic view. Our team also made sure all requests were validated by leaders by facilitating meetings where leaders would address the requests they had received. The leaders would then discuss the requests and explore them from business, care, and operational perspectives in order to show whether a request made good practical or financial sense. As a result, we became deeply engaged. We worked hard to understand how the different teams were organized, to identify the major players, and to validate opinions while driving toward consensus. These collaborative meetings further helped us manage the budget and ensure ROI.


In many ways, this project successfully brought together disparate elements into one coherent voice. What was once a fragmented campus is now tied together, both literally and metaphorically. Indeed, this hospital represents a shifting mindset and a new future for the hospital model: the bringing together of patients and care providers.

In the ten-year span of this project, our BDR team continually exceeded the call of duty. We assisted Emory in identifying what they needed to make a successful project. We helped them understand their budget, identify their unique culture, and bring together opinions. We confronted local, national, and international challenges and adapted accordingly. In every way possible, this Emory University Hospital expansion demonstrates that we at BDR are not just project managers who simply check boxes, but rather, we seek to understand our client’s business goals and deliver facilities that improve their position. In this case, delivering an expansion project $15 million under budget.

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