The $450 million Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem was the largest institutional project in the US to enter planning in November, according to the Dodge Construction Network.
Dodge reported on the project in its Momentum Index, which it says shows a 4% decline in the month.
Wake Forest announced the project in April, saying it includes an upgraded emergency department, operating rooms and enhanced adult intensive care units “and is the next step in a series of significant investments in the Triad as a result of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s strategic combination with Atrium Health,” according to a news release issued then.
“The care tower will be built where Parking Deck B currently stands. Before this parking deck can be taken down, two helipads will be built on the top of Parking Deck C, near the emergency department and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, to accommodate medical helicopters from Wake Forest Baptist’s AirCare, and those from other hospitals and air ambulance providers.”
A new elevator – which will be large enough to accommodate a stretcher and several staff members – will be installed in Parking Deck C to allow patients to be quickly and safely transported from helicopters to the emergency department, trauma center and operating rooms. Plans call for an additional helipad to be built on top of the care tower.
The existing helipads on the top of Parking Deck B will then be removed, along with the entire parking deck.
“As a leading academic health system, we are committed to growing and adapting to meet the needs of our community and our region,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, and chief academic officer of Atrium Health. “This new, world-class facility will allow us to enhance our clinical capabilities and provide leading-edge educational and research opportunities to help improve trauma and emergency care in our region and across the country.”
The care tower is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.
Nationally, the Dodge Momentum Index fell 4% in November to 171.7 (2000=100) — down from the revised October reading of 178.1. The Momentum Index, is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In November, commercial planning fell 8% while institutional planning moved 5% higher.
The value of nonresidential building projects continues to move in a sawtooth pattern, alternating between a month of gains followed by a loss. Since the pandemic began, nonresidential building projects entering planning have been more volatile than in past cycles, likely driven by increased challenges from higher prices and lack of labor.
Despite these issues and a lack of underlying demand for some building types such as offices and hotels, the Momentum Index remains near a 14-year high. Compared to November 2020, the Momentum Index was 44% higher in November 2021. The commercial planning component was 45% higher, and institutional was 41% higher.
A total of 10 projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in November. The leading commercial projects were a $240 million Seefried Industrial Properties warehouse in Mesa, AZ, and a $158 million Prologis warehouse in Lebanon, TN.
Planning data continues to suggest a healthy level of construction to come in 2022. However, due to higher prices and shortages of labor, actual growth is expected to be modest. The new Omicron variant for COVID-19, and its potential impact on economic growth, highlights the tremendous uncertainly the construction sector will face over the coming year.