Flooding, seismic liquefaction risks of new St. Paul's Hospital site highlighted by city

Oct 16 2019, 5:42 pm

There needs to be greater consideration to the resilience of the design of the new St. Paul’s Hospital at 1002 Staton Street in the False Creek Flats, according to the City of Vancouver’s rezoning report for the project.

The associated flooding and seismic liquefaction risks of building the hospital on land created by reclamation have been known since the project’s infancy, but the municipal government wants Providence Health Care to take more steps.

Over 400 acres of new land was created in the middle of the 1910s, during World War I, when the easternmost end of False Creek — between present-day Science World and Clark Drive — was filled in.

The hospital will occupy an 18.4-acre site on the northwest corner of the False Creek Flats, wedged by Pacific Central Station and Main Street-Science World Station to the south and Chinatown to the north.

“Hospitals are considered critical infrastructure, essential to the functioning of communities day-to-day, and vital during and after disasters. This new hospital presents an important opportunity for a state-of-the art facility built to withstand inevitable hazards,” reads the report.

“Given that the New St. Paul’s Hospital is located in a flood plain and high-risk seismic and liquefaction zone, staff have provided conditions requiring comprehensive all-hazard risk and vulnerability assessments be completed, and that climate and seismic resilience measures be incorporated into the design of the building.”

New St. Paul's Hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

City staff have already mandated the hospital to be built on a minimum flood construction level of five metres geodedic height of sea level, with an additional 0.2 metres to account for land sinking. Ideally, the city wants the hospital to pursue a 5.4-metre geodedic height.

All medical campus buildings must be designed with measures that mitigate flood risk damage, including placing mechanical equipment above ground level, using flood-resistant building materials on the ground floor, and ensuring optimal drainage.

A risk assessment should also be performed to assess the post-disaster functionality of the campus and all hospital buildings critical to life-saving medical services during a flood and major earthquake. Over the long-term, the site could be subject to flooding from both rising sea levels and rainwater.

New St. Pauls Hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

Additionally, an expert panel will be formed by the city to evaluate the resilience of the design and report on the post-disaster functionality of the hospital. The panel will be comprised of representatives from emergency response, building seismic design, climate adaptation, the municipal government, and other critical stakeholders.

The panel will perform up to 10 rounds of review and feedback, but its recommendations to hospital planners will not be binding.

If the project receives its necessary approvals as planned, including the city rezoning, construction on the new $1.9-billion hospital could begin in 2020/21 for an opening in 2026.

New St. Paul's Hospital

Site of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

The $1.9-billion first phase of the medical campus entails the new hospital with 548 beds — a net gain of 115 beds from the current Burrard Street hospital location.

There will also be major provincial-level programs and referral centres, including for heart and lung care, renal, eating disorders, and specialty surgeries and transplants. General and specialized care services provided by the new hospital entail emergency, HIV/AIDS, critical care, mental health, addictions, Indigenous health, maternity, and community care and outreach programs.

A second phase will result in the construction of a number of additional supporting buildings to create medical offices and research space, retail and restaurant space, a hotel with family-sized guest rooms, and rental housing for healthcare workers — about 75 rental homes, depending on the range of unit sizes.

Two daycare facilities are planned; a 69-space childcare centre will be part of the first phase, while a 49-space childcare centre will be built into the second phase.

A third phase expansion would allow for the full buildout of the hospital, as well as additional medical offices and research space.

New St. Paul's Hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

Altogether, at full buildout, the hospital will span 1.68 million sq. ft. of floor area, plus 600,000 sq. ft. of medical offices and research space, 45,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, 140,000 sq. ft. of hotel space, and 71,000 sq. ft. of rental housing for healthcare workers. At least 1,728 vehicle parking stalls will be constructed to support all functions of the medical campus.

While community amenity contributions are not required, the new hospital is subject to the municipal government’s citywide development cost levies totalling $90 million, plus a public art budget of $6.6 million.

Significant public spaces are planned, including a civic plaza, wellness walk, a “healing corridor,” and a hotel forecourt.

New St. Paul's Hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

Providence Health Care is currently in the process of selecting a contractor to design, build, and partially finance the new hospital. IBI Group is currently behind the design of the hospital during the rezoning application.

The hospital’s current 6.5-acre location at 1081 Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver’s West End is listed for sale. The property is expected to fetch upwards of $1 billion, which will go towards covering the construction cost of the new hospital.

In February, the provincial government provided its approval of the project and announced $1 billion in funding.