OK. We have some big projects in North America -- maybe not Dubai-big but still sizable. McGill University seems to be the central organizing force for a super hospital complex. (In fact it is McGill which refers to it as a "super-hospital.")
The $1.5-billion MUHC complex will bring together research and services currently spread across five McGill hospitals and institutes, a Shriner’s children’s facility and allied services to foster “excellence in patient care, research, education and technology assessment”. The hospital strives to be a “humancentred” environment, with a medical “mall-style” construction and many private rooms for patients. It will have over 8000 employees on site daily. In addition to the 280,000 m2 hospital complex, at least 1.6 million m2 of office space will be needed offsite for laboratories and spin-off research companies. Initial public consultations have been held, site decontamination is nearly complete, architects and engineers have been contracted, and transit plans are being finalized. Impacts are already occurring in the surrounding areas as traffic routes are reconfigured, residents mobilize and real estate changes hands. The hospital is slated to open in 2011. Residents understandably seek to maximize the positive aspects of this project. Some, though, fear negative effects on their quality of life: traffic and emergency vehicles will be ever-present, off-site medical offices will transform the character of neighbouring streets, and employees will outbid local residents for housing; jobs and business opportunities may not go to local workers, especially less educated residents in the Sud-Ouest and CDN/NDG boroughs.
Sounds like they are talking about 20 million square feet of hospital and related offices (if I have done my arithmetic correctly.) So that's indeed a big project and it's both noteworthy and praiseworthy that McGill is concerned about community impact. Here's the question as they ask it:
The central question is: under what conditions, and through what mechanisms, can urban mega-projects contribute to the building of stable, inclusive and healthy neighbourhoods?
Nicely phrased. I'd like to hear other megaproject developers asking such a broad question because the answer is not always "simply by getting it built."
Some minor puzzles me after browsing through their Making Megaprojects Work for Communities website:
• Why do they phrase their work in terms of a "research project?"
• Why are there no site plans and architectural renderings on their web pages?
• Why no mention of the size of the site?
The site is outlined in white, fyi.
They seem to have designs which are well-advanced. Or maybe not? The precise state of their planning is not clear. I doubt that they are in preliminary design, at any rate as as the hospital is supposed to open in 2011 and this is already mid-2008. So maybe the bad news is that they already have a site plan and they are just now (better late than never) starting to realize its enormous impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods?
To my mind, the way you handle the physical design of a project like this one is pretty straightforward and what you do NOT do is build it as an isolated campus. You don't protect the neighborhood (or the institution itself) by separating them from each other with beautiful stone walls and acres of lawn. You integrate them. etc etc. As to the social impacts — gentrification, displacement etc etc — that's a far more complex issue. But is it truly research? More later as I learn about the project.