Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Providence Newberg Medical Plaza will feature a three-story standalone building constructed using a time-saving system

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Contractors have employed a new side plate building system that allows more flexibility in construction and is quicker than welding steel girders together.

In 2006, Providence Newberg Medical Center made history by moving into a new hospital building that was the first in the country to earn a gold rating in the U.S Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Now, the hospital has achieved another milestone by being the first in Oregon to use a unique steel erection approach for a new 64,000-square-foot medical office building under construction on the Newberg campus.

The $46.7 million project is slated for completion this winter, with doors opening by late 2019 or early 2020. With a tight timeline for construction, the project team turned to a system that allowed them to erect structural steel in seven days. The system, which uses bolts rather than welding for connections, also eliminated the need to incorporate concrete shear walls into the process, effectively shaving as much as two months off the time it would have taken with a more traditional approach.

"If this were the model that we could use on all projects, I would have way less gray hair," Jared Lewis, a principal with project engineer Catena Consulting, said.

A grand planPMG PHOTO - Contractors examine the progress in construction of the annex to the Providence Newberg Medical Center.

The new Providence Newberg Medical Plaza is the largest part of an overall campus expansion along Providence Drive, according to Mike Antrim, senior manager of public relations and marketing for Providence Newberg Medical Center. A previous phase of work focused on expanding the medical center's diagnostic imaging department, including adding two more MRI and CT machine.

"This medical office building is the next big chunk," Antrim said.

Providence had considered expanding its 56-acre Newberg campus for a while before actual planning began four or five years ago, Jason Mullavey, project manager with JRJ Architects, said. The Beaverton-based firm worked with Providence leadership on an overall master plan that was finalized in 2016.

Portland-based Catena Consulting Engineers and JRJ began work on the medical office building design in early summer 2017. Fortis Construction, as general contractor, started construction in October 2018.

From the earliest stages, the hospital group's administrators knew they wanted to take a different approach with the new building. Health care facilities have moved away from the traditional model of patient care that focused on a nurses' station as a central pod with patient rooms located around it.

"The model now has really shifted to what we call a medical home model, where it's a team approach to caring for a patient," Antrim said.

In the medical home model, the members of an entire team taking care of a patient (physicians, nurses, nutritionists, medical assistants and behaviorists) need to be in the same area. The higher the degree of collaboration in a physical space, the better the team can care for the patient — a concept that places a higher value on creating interior areas that are arranged in multiple ways.

"Providence's business has morphed over the years and they've recognized they need to offer more flexible spaces, especially in their medical office building portfolio," Lewis said. "Early on, even in the interview process, we talked about how to strategize around providing more flexibility. That meant less big chunky walls in the middle of the space, less brace frames."

Finding flexibility

Early in the planning, the design team identified a handful of proprietary structural systems that would help create an overall open and flexible design. The group included a system using bolts developed by a company called SidePlate Systems Inc.

After the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake in Southern California in 1994, which resulted in dozen of deaths and $25 billion in damages, the building industry began looking at ways to make structural steel systems more resistant to significant tremblors. Out of nearly a decade of research and testing, several companies developed proprietary systems they placed on the market, Lewis said. One of those companies was SidePlate, which introduced a welded version of its system in 2011. Oregon Health & Science University's Center for Health & Healing South, for example, used the welded SidePlate system, Lewis said.

In 2013, SidePlate unveiled the bolted version of its system, which has been used in projects throughout the United States. However, according to Lewis and Mullavey, the Providence Newberg medical office building marks the first time SidePlate's system has been implemented in Oregon.

The design team handed over their suggestions for the bolted version of SidePlate and two other proprietary systems, to Fortis Construction. The general contractor eventually identified the bolted SidePlate system as the one that was the best fit.

"At that point, we hit the 'go' button and produced drawings using just the bolted Sideplate," Lewis said.

The right fit

While the Newberg project fell into what Mullavey calls the "sweet spot" of the SidePlate bolted system, he and Lewis are quick to point out the system isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

"Beyond 10 stories, you're going to be looking at a more traditional welded system," Lewis said. "I wouldn't say (this system) is going to work for everybody. I would say it works very well for office (buildings). It works very well for mid-rise construction."

The system also works best when the project contractor is brought to the table early. For the Newberg medical office building, Fortis joined the project even before the schematic design phase began.

"That's something Providence should be applauded for," Lewis said. "Not every owner out there brings on a contractor in that early design phase. It's difficult if you're making long-term, massive decisions about a project without the contractor to say this is the right direction."

Zip and done

For the Newberg medical office building, the bolted SidePlate system offered more than just design flexibility. It also had the potential to save time and money when compared with a more traditional approach.

Lewis offers as a comparison another Oregon health care project that his firm is working on. In that project, the contractor is using concrete core shear walls as the building's lateral force-resisting system.

"The contractor has decided to construct the verticality of those walls completely before coming back in and erecting anything," Lewis said. "It just takes a long time to have to form and pour, and then reform and re-pour, multiple floors of concrete wall construction. So, there's a significant difference in the schedule of that project ... versus the schedule of (the Newberg) project."

While the timeline for the steel erection of both projects was about the same, using the bolted version of the SidePlate system allowed Fortis to eliminate the roughly two-and-half-months of concrete construction work required by the more traditional approach.

The SidePlate system also offered speed in the form of columns and beams that arrived onsite with pre-fabricated connections.

"The erector merely needs to land the beam in what is a punch saddle and install the bolts and then move on," Lewis said. "They don't need to sit there and work at plumbing the system to get everything lined up. They've already got the connection lined up. It's very slick."

Using the system posed virtually no problems or hurdles during steel erection, Lewis and Mullavey said. Some proprietary systems often want to bring in their crews, which can pose contractual challenges. SidePlate Systems doesn't have that stipulation, which allowed Fortis to hire a crew they had worked with before. They were surprised at how quickly the work was completed, Lewis said.

"It's like 'zip,' and it's done," he said.

Detailed design

Using the bolted version of the SidePlate system also allowed the design team to take full advantage of Parrett Mountain, which lies on the backside of the building, Mullavey said.

The building's third floor will contain the Providence Cancer Center. So, providing unobscured views of the mountain for patients while they receive infusions was a priority in the design of that part of the building.

"Going with the SidePlate system helped us avoid any crossbracing … so we were able to advantage of those exterior views," Mullavey said.

In addition to the cancer center, which will have more than double to amount of space it has previously had available, the third floor will contain special medicine timeshare offices to accommodate a rotating roster of providers.

A cardiac rehabilitation area, which will be a new program on the Providence Newberg campus, and an outpatient rehabilitation area will take advantage of second-story views of Parrett Mountain. That floor also will provide space for a family medicine group.

Internal medicine, laboratory services and a cafÉ will fill the ground floor.

With an eye toward following the medical home model, patient areas are located along a front of windows that opens up views to the main hospital. Staff areas are located along the back of the building

The backside of the building also features some punched windows, a nod to the fact that the second phase of the Newberg-Dundee bypass is slated to run behind the building eventually.

"As we were designing this building, we had to think about that backside and how that, in the future, address a raised bypass," Mullavey said. "I don't think there will be too much noise off of it. We did think about that. We also thought about sight lines … because we're kind of featuring that back corner. Luckily, it will sweep off prior so you'll be looking back up to the side."

The project team is on track to finish construction of the medical office building by a Nov. 19 deadline. Once the building is completed, physicians and departments will be moved over from the main medical center building by the end of this year. Hitting that timeline is necessary to allow a final phase of work to begin to create two new operating rooms in an outpatient surgery area in the main hospital.

The entire expansion is planned for completion by the end of next year. Even with the current project, however, there's still room to grow on the Newberg campus property, which once was home to Mustard Seed Farms.

"There's still more on the master plan as far as this campus is concerned," Mullavey said.

Business briefs

Oregon OSHA begins offering an online ladder safety course

From 2011 to 2016, the most common source of fatal workplace injuries were low-level falls from ladders (836) and roofs (763), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Improper ladder use resulting in violations and penalties was the No. 6 citation given by Oregon OSHA.

In response, the state agency has launched an online ladder safety training course that walks employers and their employees through all phases of ladder use, including their types, safe practices, storage and dangers.

"With thoughtful planning and training, we can address the life-threatening hazards that come with using ladders while on the job," said Roy Kroker, Oregon OSHA's public education manager. "This easy-to-use online course is designed to provide employers and workers with a solid foundation to build their own ladder safety program."

Through interviews with OSHA and industry experts, the course discusses ladder safety issues, including choosing the right type of ladder for the job, heeding manufacturer's instructions, addressing common hazards and following safety rules.

The course, which results in a certificate upon successful completion, is the second of five online courses offered by Oregon OSHA in summer and fall.

The ladder safety training course is online at A corresponding fundamentals course is available at

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