Designing the Cancer Center of Sacred Heart Hospital

Visible at night to airplanes flying to the Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport, the aluminum, glass and concrete ellipse of the Cancer Center of Sacred Heart Hospital was designed as a symbol of the quality and compassion the Center brings to patients throughout Northwest Florida. The 95,430-square-foot Sacred Heart Cancer Center both consolidates and expands Sacred Heart’s cancer services.

To design the new Cancer Center, Sacred Heart Health Systems selected Pensacola-based architects, Caldwell Associates. The firm has collaborated with Sacred Heart on previous projects including the Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast and the Sacred Heart Medical Office Building and Conference Center. Pensacola-based Merritt Glass Company was selected to fabricate and glaze the project, as well as help meet on-site challenges. The company brought in Kawneer to provide curtainwall, storefront framing and entrances for the facility, as well as architectural and engineering expertise.

Although the new Center itself is relatively straightforward in design, it features a unique egg-shaped structure. Caldwell Associates (teaming with HKS as design consultants) designed the aluminum and glass “Egg”as it became known, which is elevated so that cars could travel underneath. At the tip of the Egg is a 70-foot high concrete, glass and aluminum stairwell, which is jokingly known as the “Yolk.”

For the project team, the biggest challenge was the initial layout of the Egg.

“The Egg is a true ellipse,” says John Schang with Caldwell Associates. “And because the ellipse of the building has multiple radii, creating a smooth curvature was challenging. The splay portion of the curtain wall left little room for error.”

Local building codes proved to be another challenge that the design and construction team faced. Sacred Heart Cancer Center is located in one of Florida’s vulnerable coastline cities, which requires additional measures for hurricane and wind protection.

The Egg and Yolk were constructed using approximately 50,000 pounds of glass. Supporting that weight, while still elevating the Egg, required precise engineering.

In order to construct the Egg, a template was created to demonstrate where the roof and Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System®1 IR (Impact Resistant) curtainwall would meet. The template was also used as a measurement for each vertical mullion to keep the height of all of the mullions consistent with the roof. Several custom splayed shapes were required, as well as a custom-drop in the horizontal mullion. Structural engineers from Kawneer worked closely with the design and installation team to ensure that strict statewide building standards were met.

The impact resistant version of the 1600 Wall System®1 and IR 501 storefront framing system, with insulating laminated 1 5/16-inch impact resistant glazing, were used to help meet building standards. Kawneer’s IR 501 Framing is Large Missile Impact (LMI) resistant. In addition, the company’s 350 IR Entrances were utilized in the building to provide extra strength for applications where more stringent code requirements inclucall for windborne debris protection. The 350 IR Entrances used laminated 9/16-inch impact resistant glazing infill with square glass stops and an interior silicone seal.


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