Demolition work begins at Christ Hospital
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org July 8, 2013 7:06AM
Advocate Chirst Medical Center employees watch the start of demolition of the parking garage. | Steve Metsch Sun-Times Media
For Ken Lukhard, his five minutes at the controls of a towering demolition crane “was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”
“It was really fun,” he said of being at the controls, and causing a wall near the top of a parking garage to come tumbling down five floors to the cheers of a couple hundred people.
“I had a 15-minute tutorial this morning. It went okay, I had to back it up a bit to tear the wall down,” he said June 24.
It’s not a new career for the president of Advocate Christ Medical Center, but it is a new chapter for the hospital, 4400 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn.
The afore-mentioned garage, on the west side of Kostner Avenue north of the hospital’s main entrance, is being demolished to make room for a seven-story tower that will house space for women delivering babies and 72 intensive care rooms, Lukhard said.
“It’s designed to go seven floors initially, but we can add four more floors (if needed in the future),” Lukhard said.
The parking garage will take 50 to 60 days to demolish, and the tower will be finished in the fall of 2015, said Patrick Lyons, Advocate’s director of construction.
The 400 parking spaces in the doomed garage will be replaced with an 800-space garage on the east side of Kostner Avenue near 95th Street.
A larger service dock area will allow semi-trailer trucks to execute three-point turns “and keep the traffic flowing on Kostner,” Lyons said.
“It will be a huge benefit for us,” he said.
Patrice Stephens, of Palos Heights, who has worked at the hospital for 34 years, watched the demolition begin. She liked what she saw.
“It’s an amazing new adventure for us. I’m so proud of our hospital for what we are doing for our community and our patients,” said Stephens, an advanced practice nurse.
“This will help because we’re very busy and working in an area that’s too small to meet the patients’ needs,” Stephens said as she watched the demolition begin.
Part of the plan calls for a bridge from the new garage to the new building. The entire project is budgeted at $250 million, Lyons said.
The addition will offer better access to health care, said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury, who attended the ceremony with several elected officials and village manager Larry Deetjen, who seemed to relish the chance of swinging a sledge hammer against the garage’s brick wall at ground level before Lukhard got busy.
Architect Greg Heiser, of Cannon Design, said meetings began in 2011 to determine the hospital’s needs.
“There’s also a new cafeteria and a new main entrance. We want to make the new building so the hospital staff can work as efficiently as possible. We’ve met with physicians, nurses and staff,” Heiser said.
Bury called the addition at Christ “a win for Oak Lawn and a win for the region.”