MGH Team of Officials Outline Preliminary Plans for Expansion

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital representatives was on hand to discuss preliminary plans for the hospital’s $1 billion expansion at a public meeting sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association on Tuesday, March 12, at 74 Joy St.

The 1,035,000-square-foot complex would consist of two connected, 12-story towers located entirely within the MGH campus, with its facade facing Cambridge Street. The top six floors of both towers would accommodate 450 single-bed patient rooms while the complex would also be home to an “operating/procedural/ interventional space, imaging, exam rooms and infusion centers,” as well as a fifth-floor roof garden and ground-floor retail and café space along Cambridge Street. Connections between the second and fifth floors of both towers would allow hospital staff and patients to move easily between them, and a parking garage beneath the complex would contain 1,100 spaces and be built in phases to overlap with the planned closure of several other MGH parking garages and lots.

“Proximity to the main campus was the reason why this location was chosen,” said Tom Sieniewicz, partner with the international architectural and design firm NBBJ. “It also allows us to replace the ‘missing tooth’ on Cambridge Street and repair the urban fabric there.”

Two nearby sites would also be cleared and the existing Campus Services Building razed and replaced with a seven-story building as part of the project.

As for the park on North Anderson Street, Sieniewicz said MGH “needs [community] input on that particular piece of land and how to shape it.”

Sally Mason Boemer, senior vise president of finance and administration, said the hospital filed its latest Institutional Master Plan (IMP) on Feb. 20, which outlines framework for the institution’s next decade (2019-2029) and details its real estate holdings, property leases and 10-year projects.

The new master plan also extends MGH’s boundaries to include new properties acquired since the last IMP was filed in 2006. (MGH filed a three-year extension in 2009, which expires in June.)

Boemer said the document was filed in tandem with the Project Notification Form (PNF) for the proposed complex, which she said is the only new project included in the IMP.

After the public comment period for the PNF ends on March 22, the Boston Planning and Development Agency will study the scoping of the project before hosting a second public meeting on the matter.

Boemer said besides providing state-of-the-art healthcare, the new complex would allow MGH to “meets its growing need for care,” as the hospital currently risks exceeding emergency-room capacity.

MGH now has a 38-percent single-occupancy room rate for patients – one of the lowest in the city and among comparable hospitals nationwide – while one-third of its patient beds are located in buildings built between 1940 and 1969.

The new complex would create 400 new single rooms, resulting in an increase of 200 total single beds after MGH decommissions some older patient quarters, bringing the hospital’s rate of single-occupancy rooms to between 60 and 65 percent, Boemer said.

Revere Street resident Suzanne Oakley expressed concern that the project would exasperate traffic conditions on Cambridge Street,” which she described as “like a parking lot to begin with.”

State Rep. Jay Livingstone also said he was “skeptical” of MGH’s plans to add parking spaces on Cambridge Street.

David Bohn, senior principal of the Watertown civil engineering consulting and design firm VHB, responded that the garage would be accessible via two driveways on North Anderson Street, which the design team is considering converting into a two-way street.

Meanwhile, Ania Camargo, a Beacon Hill resident who worked as a consultant to the hospital for 25 years, questioned the climate sustainability of the new complex, which is slated to use natural gas.

“On the sustainability front, it seems like you could be doing a lot more,” Camargo said. “I don’t see Mass. General leading this front at a time when they should be leading the city.” Public comments on the project can be submitted until March 22 to Katelyn Sullivan c/o of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, One City Hall Square, Boston, MA or via email to [email protected].

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