Florida Keys hospital breaks ground, NELSON Worldwide implements resilient design concept

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After the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys in 2017, a local Florida Keys hospital partnered with architecture design firm, NELSON Worldwide, to implement a new hospital design tailored to protect the hospital from its unique geographic risks. Fishermen’s Community Hospital broke ground Friday, September 20.

Aerial rendering of Fishermen's Community Hospital exterior

Fishermen's Community Hospital Exterior

Fishermen’s Community Hospital had been serving its island community in Marathon, a small city in the middle of the Florida Keys, since 1962. A critical access hospital, it provided essential primary and emergency care for a small population whose only other option was 42 miles away via a single inter-island highway. In September 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Irma swept through the Keys, devastating the islands and sealing the hospital’s fate. Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF) would close the irreparably damaged facility, set up a temporary field hospital in its place, and enlist its longtime design partner in Miami, NELSON, to help resurrect this important community resource.

Due to reopen in winter 2020, the full replacement hospital will materialize from the passionate commitment and collaboration of the Marathon community, local government, BHSF and NELSON’s team of healthcare experts. The new facility will provide emergency services, diagnostic and imaging, surgical, critical care, lab, pharmacy, and outpatient services in line with the local population’s needs.

But the new Fishermen’s Community Hospital will have to be ready for more than just patients. As global climate conditions continue to evolve, and the Florida Keys remain in the path of hurricane events, NELSON’s architectural team is implementing a resilient design concept tailored to the hospital’s unique geographic risks, including:

  • A building envelope and hospital infrastructure designed to withstand Category 5 hurricane wind events
  • Building flood resistant to three feet above the 100-year flood plain to be prepared for flooding conditions, exceeding FEMA criteria
  • Reuse of the existing hospital’s demolition debris to support the foundation and divert additional waste from landfills
  • A structure composed of concrete tilt-up panels for the building envelope and incorporating regional standard building components to minimize time and manpower on site, accommodating a reduced workforce that resulted from residents leaving post-Irma

As construction begins, the new Fishermen’s Community Hospital promises to return to the Middle Keys stronger than ever, providing a vital asset to local residents with a new level of preparedness for the future.

About NELSON Worldwide
NELSON is an award-winning firm delivering architecture, interior design, graphic design, and brand strategy services that transform all dimensions of the human experience, providing our clients with strategic and creative solutions that positively impact their lives and the environments where they work, serve, play, and thrive. Our collective network includes more than 1,100 teammates in 25 offices, combining industry experience, service expertise, and geographic reach to deliver projects across the country and around the world. Client partnerships across the NELSON network include: Bank of America, Saks Fifth Avenue, Google, Hershey’s, Kroger, Simon Property Group, Macy’s, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, SAP Fieldglass, HILTON, Target, T-Mobile, Dick’s Sporting Goods, American Girl, YUM! Brands, and many more. Visit http://www.nelsonworldwide.com to learn more.

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Ali Hernandez
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