Design for Flexibility

Healthcare providers continue to move more and more patient care services away from the main hospital into medical office buildings. Medical office buildings that were once used mainly for family practice office visits and check-ups have been retrofitted to house ambulatory surgical centers, chemotherapy infusion suites, kidney dialysis, diagnostic radiology, and cancer treatment modalities such as linear accelerators, Cyberknife, and Tomotherapy. Medical office buildings are often constructed to support lower acuity health services without regard for the operational and regulatory requirements of the more complex patient care systems that are becoming prevalent in the outpatient model of care, which makes them costly to renovate.

Medical office buildings in today’s market must be designed to support emerging technology, ever-changing delivery methods, and future renovations. When planning your next medical office building project, give your mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems the flexibility to accommodate the changing marketplace and to minimize disruption to existing tenants when renovations occur in the future by considering the following:

  • Multiple sets of plumbing risers evenly spaced at building columns through-out the project (sanitary drainage, vent, and domestic water) so that plumbing needs can be met at any location in the facility.
  • Centralized three-phase power distribution systems with strategically located electrical rooms at identical locations on each floor.
  • Plan additional space in the electrical rooms that could be used to accommodate transfer switches should a future tenant require an emergency generator.
  • Air handlers with adequate static pressure that would be able to accommodate fully ducted return systems, and final filters, even though they may not be required for every tenant.
  • Data/IT server rooms strategically located at identical locations on each floor and plan them with enough space to support technology growth.
  • Provide dedicated cooling systems for Data/IT server rooms with sufficient capacity to accommodate growing Data/IT systems.

Taking the time to consider the future flexibility of your building systems and layout during the design phase will pay dividends for the life of the building. For questions relating to your next medical office building project, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan B. Slagel, PE, LEED AP HFDP, at (717)-817-2277 or

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