Caldwell Associates Architects, Inc.
Pensacola, Florida, USA

Glazing Contractor:
Merritt Glass Company
Pensacola, Florida, USA

Kawneer Products:
1600 Wall System®1 (Impact Resistant) curtain wall
IR (Impact Resistant) 501 Framing
350 IR (Impact Resistant) Entrances

Visible at night to airplanes flying to the Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport, the aluminum, glass and concrete ellipse of the Cancer Center of Sacred Heart Hospital is a symbol of the quality and compassion the Center brings to patients throughout Northwest Florida. Designed to be a leading, unique cancer facility for patients, their families, physicians and other healthcare professionals, the 95,430-square-foot Sacred Heart Cancer Center both consolidates and expands Sacred Heart’s cancer services. As an addition to the original Sacred Heart Airport Medical Park medical office building in Pensacola, the four-story facility houses infusion and radiation oncology services, as well as physicians’ offices, Cancer Services administration, patient support services, the cancer registry and cancer research staff.

To design the new Cancer Center, Sacred Heart Health Systems selected Pensacola-based architects, Caldwell Associates. The firm has collaborated with Sacred Heart on previous projects including the Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast and the Sacred Heart Medical Office Building and Conference Center. The new Center itself is relatively straightforward in design. However, to join the Cancer Center with offices and conference rooms, as well as the original Airport Medical Park building, Caldwell Associates (teaming with HKS as design consultants) added a unique, egg-shaped structure to the building. The aluminum and glass “Egg," as it became known, is elevated so that cars can travel underneath.

For the project team – architects, contractors, installers and manufacturers – the biggest challenge was the initial layout of the Egg.

“The Egg is a true ellipse,” said John Schang with Caldwell Associates. “And because the ellipse of the building has multiple radii, creating a smooth curvature was challenging. The splay portion of the curtain wall left little room for error.”

Pensacola-based Merritt Glass Company was selected to fabricate and glaze the project, as well as help meet on-site challenges. The company immediately brought in Kawneer to provide curtain wall, storefront framing and entrances for the facility, as well as architectural and engineering expertise.

“The Egg and Yolk are made up of 50,000 pounds of glass. Kawneer was instrumental in providing engineering expertise throughout the project to ensure that the weight of the glass could be supported,” said Schang.

Having previously worked together on several projects throughout the region, the successful relationship between Merritt Glass Company, Kawneer and Caldwell Associates came through during this project. “Kawneer helped us do the shop drawings, and it was amazing how close those were to the actual field conditions,” said Jeff Bushaw, Project Manager at Merritt Glass Company. “It’s great to work with a company that makes things easier on-site.”

In order to construct the Egg, a template was created to demonstrate where the roof and Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System®1 IR (Impact Resistant) curtain wall would meet. The template was also used as a measurement for each vertical mullion to keep the height of all of the mullions consistent with the roof. Several custom splayed shapes were required, as well as a custom-drop in the horizontal mullion. At the tip of the Egg is a 70-foot high concrete, glass and aluminum stairwell, which was jokingly known as the “Yolk."

“The Egg and Yolk are made up of 50,000 pounds of glass, which arrived at the site in three semi-trucks,” said Schang. “Kawneer was instrumental in providing engineering expertise throughout the project to ensure that the weight of the glass could be supported.”

Local building codes proved to be another challenge that the design and construction team faced. Sacred Heart Cancer Center is located in one of Florida’s vulnerable coastline cities, which requires additional measures for hurricane and wind protection. Engineers at Kawneer worked closely with the design and installation team to ensure that strict statewide building standards were met. “Structural engineering support from Kawneer was outstanding, “ said Roger Fulford, Site Supervisor for Merritt Glass Company. “There was a lot of back and forth communication and adaptations that needed to be made. However, everything went smoothly.”

“The unique design of this project is unusual to the area. To work on a project this distinctive was very gratifying. I’m proud to say I was a part of it,” Bushaw said.

In addition to providing overall aesthetic elements, the impact resistant version of Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System®1 and IR 501 storefront framing system, with insulating laminated 1 5/16-inch impact resistant glazing, were used for added patient safety and security. Kawneer’s IR 501 Framing is Large Missile Impact (LMI) resistant, fully tested and easily fabricated and installed, which helped keep the project on time and on budget.

“I saw the joint effort on everybody’s part and together we were able to finish the project on time and to the customer’s satisfaction. Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” Bushaw continued. “The unique design of this project is unusual to the area. To work on a project this distinctive was very gratifying. I’m proud to say I was a part of it.”

Kawneer’s 350 IR Entrances were also utilized in the new Center to provide the extra strength for applications where more stringent code requirements include windborne debris protection. The 350 IR Entrances used laminated 9/16-inch impact resistant glazing infill with square glass stops and an interior silicone seal. All products used on the Center were finished with a dark bronze anodized finish.

“Participating in this project was a pleasure. Connecting the dots between the design team, Kawneer engineering, estimating and the installers, and following the job from the design stage to owner occupancy – it was exciting to be part of such a great process,” said Tom Parrish, sales representative for Kawneer. “My challenges throughout the project were minor because I am supported by such a talented engineering team and one of the premier installers in the Pensacola area.”

The appreciation that Parrish expressed for the team is just one example of the collaboration that took place in order to successfully construct the Sacred Heart Cancer Center. Overcoming design and construction challenges through teamwork is an appropriate start for a building that serves as a healing environment for patients and their families who face the challenge of overcoming cancer. Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never give up.” Everyone at the Center, from doctors and patients, to administrators and support, embodies the ‘never give up’ spirit. The new Sacred Heart Cancer Center, a state-of-the-art facility where hospital and medical staff can continue their unwavering commitment to providing quality care for patients, helps fulfill the goals of the Sacred Heart Cancer Center.