An architectural education prepares students for a career in general building design. Not often discussed is when architects focus their career path on a single building type, such as health care facilities. Health care architecture consists of specialized building types — hospitals, clinics and laboratories — that are designed by multdisciplinary professional teams. While health care architecture is a challenging field to work in, it has been less impacted by economic shifts than other sectors due to the growing needs of health care systems.
The Department of Defense’s Military Health System (MHS) is one of the largest health care systems in the United States consisting of 49 hospitals and medical centers, plus more than 600 research laboratories and medical, dental and veterinary clinics. Within the MHS, there are numerous opportunities for both military and civilian architects, engineers and construction managers to shape the health care built environment.
Defense Health Agency Facilities Enterprise manages the facility lifecycle for all military medical treatment facilities from planning and design through construction and outfitting to sustainment.
The U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency (HFPA) and Defense Health Agency (DHA) employ multidisciplinary teams of architects, engineers, nurses, equipment planners and other specialists to plan, design, construct and outfit hospitals and clinics to serve our warriors and their families.
Currently, there are four Norwich alumni serving in military health facility planning roles (U.S. Army Col. Jim Goetschius, U.S. Army Col. Chris Kiss, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Will Lewis, and Mr. David Clark) with several others having served and gone on to successful careers elsewhere in the health care industry.
DHA Facilities Enterprise is responsible for managing the facility lifecycle for all military medical treatment facilities from planning and design through construction and outfitting to sustainment. This includes executing the DoD’s medical military construction program to ensure its health and medical research facilities are technologically modern and best aligned to support the delivery of world-class health care.
A recent project success was DHA’s and HFPA’s delivery of the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center to the Fort Bliss community in El Paso, Texas. The medical center project consisted of over 1.1 million square feet of clinical and administrative space boasting capabilities such as 10 operating rooms (OR), a hybrid-OR, 135 inpatient beds, two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and 30 specialty care clinics with 269 examination rooms.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 1, 2021, the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, declared the medical center replacement the crown jewel of the Military Health System. The hospital and its associated clinics support the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss’ power projection capability.
Strategically important hospital
In late December 2021, DHA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers successfully awarded the construction of the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center in Germany. At 985,000 square feet, this strategically important hospital will be the largest U.S. health care facility on foreign soil and a critical asset supporting operations in Europe, Africa and western Asia.
In addition to working on replacement and alteration projects on permanent bases in the United States and overseas, health facility planners support facility and infrastructure needs in contingency environments. Over the past three decades, HFPA conducted at least 60 operational missions in more than 30 countries. The missions were in support of the full spectrum of military operations, including armed conflict, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Beginning in early 2020, HFPA participated in the whole of government response to the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop and publish project work statements, including programs for design, equipment lists and concepts of operation, for alternate care sites (ACS) that informed more than 1,155 site assessments and 78 ACS installations across the United States.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, HFPA and military health facility planners participated in the planning, design, construction and outfitting of six modular, pre-engineered and site-built hospitals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. They also developed project packages, including concept designs, scopes of work and cost estimates, for forward surgical teams, medical clinics, dental clinics, veterinary clinics and medical laboratories in the Middle East and Central Asia.
DoD offers many opportunities for military and civilian architects, engineers and construction managers to use their knowledge and skills to benefit the nation. Designing and building hospitals and clinics to preserve health and save lives is among the noblest work we do.
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Army Health Facilities (HFPA/G9)
Defense Health Agency
Defense Health Agency Facilities Enterprise
New William Beaumont Army Medical Center: The Crown Jewel of the Military Health System
Contract Awarded for Largest Overseas U.S. Military Hospital
Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan
Air Force Theater Hospital, Balad Air Base, Iraq
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