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EHR Infrastructure Designed into Historic Medical Campus

EHR Infrastructure Designed into Historic Medical Campus

VA Upgrades Site Plan

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Historic preservation was imperative for Acela Architects + Engineers when modernizing the electronic health records (EHR) infrastructure of a sprawling Massachusetts medical campus.

Built in the 1920s, the Edward P. Boland VA Medical Center looks more collegiate than clinical, with 60 buildings spread over 105 leafy acres. Located in the historic village of Leeds, in the eastern portion of the city of Northampton, it has also been registered as the “VA Hospital District” on the National Register of Historic Places since 2012.

“The interplay between historic preservation and technical necessity presented some unique challenges for tihs project,” said Acela president Daniel Witczak, PE, PMP. “Now nearing completion of the design stage, our solutions address both priorities—campus-wide EHR upgrades and historic preservation.”

Witczak noted that it was also “mission critical” to achieve it all without causing any lapses in the quality of care for thousands of Veterans served by the largest VA medical facility in the region.

Historic standards restricted the option of a standalone structure for the core element of the upgrade—a 6,000 sf central data and telecommunications center.

“The solution was to graft the new purpose-built facility onto an historic building on the campus,” said Acela Senior Architectural Designer Matthew Albitz, LEED, AP. “Our exterior design included native fieldstone for the cladding and expanses of mirrored blast-proof glass to effectively ‘disappear’ into the natural setting of centuries-old cedar trees. Inside, we created a highly-controlled technology environment necessary to meet all VA EHRM (Electronic Health Records Modernization) project requirements.”

Additional project aspects provided by Acela include:

  • Extensive civil survey with underground equipment and metal detection
  • Fiber optic data ring connecting all campus buildings via two 5-mile long underground conduit paths
  • Historical survey submitted to state historic preservation authorities
  • Space and staff relocation planning

Started in 2022, the design stage was completed on-schedule in Q4 2023. Acela is providing project management throughout construction which is projected to span 38 months with completion slated for Q2 2028.

About Acela Architects + Engineers, P.C.: Founded in 2014, Acela is an integrated team of architectural, civil engineering, structural engineering and mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering professionals providing a full spectrum of design, consulting and project management services for private, corporate, government and institutional clients throughout the US. Acela is headquartered in Allentown, PA with regional offices in NJ, NY and OH. For more facts: www.acela-ae.com.