Royal Children’s Hospital redevelopment design stuffup

I’ve written about the Royal Children’s Hospital redevelopment before – in particular the demolition of the old hospital – but this time I’m revisiting the subject after I stumbled upon an interesting article in The Age.

"Royal Children's Hospital" sign still in place on the 1960s cream brick

RCH design blunders to prove costly‘ was the article in question:

RCH design blunders to prove costly
March 23, 2009
Nick Miller

Poor design in the new $1 billion Royal Children’s Hospital is causing enormous construction problems, the project’s director has admitted.

Anthony Lubofsky told an interstate conference last week that the hospital’s builder, Bovis Lend Lease, was “tearing its hair out” trying to cope with design blunders.

The biggest mistake was to keep two buildings from the old hospital, Mr Lubofsky said. In a remarkable oversight, the retained part of an eight-storey building did not have lifts.

“(It’s) way more trouble than it’s worth … it skews the whole master plan by keeping it,” Mr Lubofsky said in an audio recording obtained by The Age.

“If I was doing the project again I would never keep it … If you could avoid retaining these buildings, Jesus, I’d fight very, very hard now to avoid it,” he said.

“Poor Bovis are pulling their hair out trying to deal with all of the logistical challenges which they’re still getting across even now.”

The buildings were kept because they were relatively new. But Mr Lubofsky said the decision to keep parts of the old hospital had not saved any money.

“It’s not just me, all of the builders will tell you it costs as much to refurbish as it does to build; you’re better off just building.”

The troublesome buildings that were retained fronted Flemington Road.

Flemington Road frontage of the former Royal Children's Hospital

With the rest of the old cream brick hospital complex being demolished around them.

Research wing being retained, everything else being demolished

Until just two buildings remained – the shorter ‘front entry building’ to the left, and the taller ‘research precinct building’ to the right.

All that remains: the entrance and research buildings

The research precinct block was the troublesome building mentioned in the article – originally added onto the end of main ‘H’ building about a decade ago, once the rest of the hospital was demolished, it was left high and dry without lift access.

So how did they fix the access problem?

One bay of the old hospital retained, serving as the stairwell for the adjacent research building

Luckily for the builders, the section of the old hospital that adjoined the newer building just so happened to contain a set of lift shafts, so they changed their plans and and only demolished the other 99% of the old building, then covered the resulting Frankenstein dodge job with a new steel facade.

New steel facade added to the retained research building

Do you think anyone will notice?

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5 Responses to “Royal Children’s Hospital redevelopment design stuffup”

  1. Graeme says:

    I guess you could always screen print a giant Ron MacDonald over it.
    Brought to you by our sponsors,have a nice day.

  2. Andrew says:

    My father was a builder and my brother is a builder and they both hated/hate mixing the old with the new. They always wanted a clean site and to start from scratch. The variables of mixing old with new can never be estimated accurately in dollars.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’ve rewired, restumped and renovated the bathroom at my house since buying it – I know what work needs to be done, but the exact details are different each time.

  3. Roger Parish says:

    They have done it before in the late 1960s or early 1970s when a new wing went up at the same hospital and they forgot the lifts. An old lady who volunteered there told me.

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