Erlanger unveils dreams for the future in Chattanooga

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Aerial view of Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga, which could get a new nonprofit board in a bill working its way through the Tennessee General Assembly.

Erlanger hospital officials plan to build more than a state-of-the-art children’s hospital — they plan to build a new children’s and women’s hospital that will revitalize Third Street’s hospital corridor, channeling the spirit of Chattanooga’s vibrant downtown development.

Erlanger invited Chattanoogans to “Re-Imagining Erlanger,” a public event held Tuesday night that filled the auditorium of the Aquarium IMAX 3D Theatre. The audience watched as the final two teams vying for the opportunity to design and build this project unveiled their renderings on the IMAX screen.

Hospital officials asked for community support and input.

A majority of the audience were Erlanger employees, but there also were business professionals, and curious citizens, who sat alongside hospital officials and committee members in the darkened theater.

“The turnout is unbelievable,” Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel said. “This shows how our project is focusing local.”

Prior to the unveiling Tuesday night, both teams organized by Atlanta architectural firms spent several weeks in Chattanooga capturing the city’s essence before drafting designs, and each team spent more than $200,000 of their own investment preparing for the presentation, said Bruce Komiske, the project executive overseeing Erlanger’s new hospital.

Team Dream Big showed their designs that architects from Stanley Beaman & Sears developed, and construction company Gresham Smith and Partners/Turner Construction Co. would construct.

Project Executive Burn Sears said that he and his team have experience building hospitals and “know the key details that families want and remember in a children’s hospital.”

Dream Big’s design was lively and colorful and placed an emphasis on nature and the use of outdoor space.

Three of its team members personally presented ideas that ranged from adjustable colored lights in the children’s rooms that could be switched to match the patients mood and create a colorful outside display, to having a partnership with the aquarium to allow for a live feed of educational programming in each room.

Team Chatalyst presented a design that architects from HKS Inc. conceptualized, and McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. would implement.

Bob Farrow, principal director of health care Southeast for HKS Inc., said their team was “taking a big picture and wholistic look. … We want to collaborate with health care, city space and academia on this project.”

Chatalyst’s sleek video presentation demonstrated how they intended for their design to be a catalyst for continued change throughout the city.

The plans were community focused bringing elements of Chattanooga into the hospital, using the river, mountains, bridges, and trains for their design inspiration.

Team Chatalyst wanted the hospital to offer children and their families a sense of normalcy within the hospital. Ideas to accomplish this were to provide family kitchens, along with a space for birthday parties, educational rooms, and a park outside.

The teams also briefly talked about their plans for the women’s hospital, both citing spa and hotel like comfort being a goal.

Questions from the audience followed the presentations and each person in the audience was given a response card to fill out for the hospital to use in their consideration.

Erlanger officials said that a team should be chosen by the end of the week and that fundraising tens of millions of dollars for the project is the next step.

Lynn Lamb, a nurse practitioner and lecturer for the UTC School of nursing, attended the presentations because she has dreamed of Chattanooga having a facility like the ones presented for years.