USGBC+ Reports on Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Building for Flood

In October 2012, David S. Burson stood in the former Charlestown Navy Yard, at the site of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, at high tide during Hurricane Sandy. The water rose to two feet from breaching the site. “It was as high as I’ve ever seen it, but it didn’t come onto our site,” says Burson, a senior project manager at Partners HealthCare, an affiliate of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. “However, if Sandy had hit at a different hour, we probably would have seen some water.”

According to a Boston Harbor Association study, had Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge corresponded with high tide in Boston, instead of hitting after it, about 6 percent of the city would have been under water, including the former navy yard. That experience meant that Burson and other planners of Spaulding’s new 132-bed rehabilitation hospital could be immensely relieved that they’d designed a building capable of withstanding the rising sea levels projected over the next century. The 262,000-square-foot hospital, which opened in April 2013, includes a panoply of strategies that fall under the umbrella term of “resilience architecture”—in this case strategies specifically designed to thwart rising sea levels.

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