Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital plans to replace its failing underground utility system with an above-ground system that will change the look of the campus.
The hospital will construct an above-ground utility line that will carry steam and chilled water from its existing energy plant at 5th Street South and 8th Avenue South, north along 5th Street, west on 6th Avenue and terminating at the hospital at 501 6th Ave. S.
The St. Petersburg Development Review Commission approved the hospital’s site plan modifications, including new streetscape enhancements, on Wednesday.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital operates a private utility system that currently provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning services to the hospital through the existing underground lines. Part of that system, which carries steam underground, is failing, Adam Carnegie, senior project manager at Stantec Consulting Services, told the commission.
“It is not so much that an underground system cannot be constructed in a way that it would be robust going forward, but the existing steam lines are already underground on the west side of the street taking up a lot of space. Trying to layer in another whole set of utilities in that space is virtually impossible,” Carnegie said.
Going to an above-ground system is unusual, Carnegie said, so it was incumbent on planners to integrate the above-ground system with streetscape improvements. The above-ground utility line will use colors that are consistent with Johns Hopkins’ branding.
The project also will make it easier for pedestrian walking the campus, with amenities such as seating and planters.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is a cornerstone of the city’s Innovation District, and the project design aligns with the district’s streetscape and connectivity plan, Alison Barlow, Innovation District executive director, wrote in a letter to the Development Review Commission.
“The creativity of the design has transformed this project from a standard infrastructure improvement plan to an engaging experience for District members and adds to the overall vision for the area,” Barlow wrote. She encouraged the hospital to incorporate work by local artists in the final plans.
The Historic Roser Park Neighborhood Association, which is adjacent to the hospital campus, also endorsed the plan. “We were very pleased to see the care that All Children’s is taking to make what could be very unsightly, instead be an attractive addition to that 5th Street area,” said Stephanie Smart, president of the association.
The unanimous vote by the Development Review Commission to approve the above-ground utilities also included other updates to the hospital’s master plan. Two buildings have been demolished — a 15,562-square-foot YMCA building at 429 6th Ave. S. and a 2,500-square-foot medical office building at 957 4th St. S. Johns Hopkins also built a park on land it owns at the northeast corner of 7th Avenue South and 5th Street South.