UAMS Implodes Dorm, Prepares for Hospital Construction
500,000-Square Foot Addition to Open in 2008

By todd

Contractors imploded the 45-year old student dormitory at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) today to make room for a major addition to the UAMS Medical Center. 

J. Floyd Kyser, M.D., a retired otolaryngologist who graduated from UAMS in 1962, won the right to push a ceremonial plunger, signaling the demolition of the 10-story building at the intersection of Hooper and Shuffield drives on the UAMS campus. Several hundred UAMS officials, invited guests and members of the public cheered the series of bangs that sounded as the roughly 65 pounds of charges placed in 300 locations in the 45-year old building’s concrete shell detonated and the 15,000-ton building collapsed in about 15 seconds. 

The adjacent Jeff Banks Student Union and nearby Child Study Center will be torn down next and the entire site will be cleared. Construction on the 500,000-square foot hospital addition is expected to begin this summer and be completed in 2008. The hospital addition is part of a $255 million expansion initiative that includes a new psychiatric facility, residence hall and other projects. 

“Today closes a chapter in UAMS history with the implosion of the dorm that served generations of students, but we open a new, exciting chapter as we prepare for construction of the hospital expansion,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “The hospital addition, adjacent Psychiatric Research Institute and other elements of our campus expansion position UAMS to deliver on its patient care, education, research and outreach missions for many years to come.” 

Kyser, of Little Rock, said he never lived in the dorm while at UAMS but spent the night there with friends and had fond memories of the building. UAMS exceeded its $5,000 goal in bidding for the right to push the plunger.

The hospital addition will be constructed adjacent to the hospital’s Harry P. Ward Tower, extending west past the current location of Hooper Drive and east to connect to the Outpatient Center. Hooper Drive will be transformed into a boulevard from its intersection with Markham Street and the portion near the hospital addition will be relocated west of its current location. 

The hospital expansion, when completed, will give the medical center a capacity of 270 adult beds in private rooms. Plans also call for the addition to include space for a new emergency department, additional surgical and interventional suites, admissions, an intensive care unit, an intermediate care unit and other services.  

Additional unfinished space will be available for future expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit as well as two unfinished floors that will give UAMS a total of 390 private patient rooms when complete.

A new parking deck will have 1,000 parking spaces, intended primarily for hospital employees, patients and visitors. It will be built as the lower floors of the new hospital, extending underground. There is also space available for a future north-south hospital wing east of the parking deck.

The planned Psychiatry Research Institute, with construction also beginning this summer, will connect to the new hospital to the west. Scheduled for completion in 2007, the five-story, 100,000-square foot PRI will include a 40-bed inpatient facility as well as an outpatient clinic, research, educational and administrative space.

A new $14 million residence hall is under construction to replace the dorm and student union. It is expected to be open this fall. Other campus expansion projects include a nearly complete five-floor addition to the Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, a new student bookstore and a utility building to serve the expanded hospital.

Controlled Demolition Inc. of Baltimore, Md., served as lead contractor for the dorm implosion. Assisting in the implosion is CDI Contractors Inc. of Little Rock, the general contractor for the campus expansion.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.