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Medical Center plaza restoration project rolls on

May. 21, 2015, 9:56 AM

The restoration of the Medical Center plaza includes a new surface, updated landscaping and more seating, and is set to be completed later this year. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

Completion is nearing for one of the key phases of the restoration of the Medical Center plaza behind Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH), at the south end near the Courtyard Café.

The new surface, a mixture of aggregate and sand-set paving stones, is largely in place, along with a planter with shrubbery and benches for staff, faculty, students and visitors.

Work continues on other areas of the plaza, including the central portion adjacent to Light Hall, and the smaller area between the VUH doors and Au Bon Pain.

The restoration, which began in March 2014, is a multi-phase project that allows different areas to be restored while the plaza, which is a main thoroughfare for thousands of pedestrians every day, remains in use. The work is scheduled for completion later this year.

While the replacement of the surface and the updating of the planters and benches is the most visible part of the work, the real purpose of the project was to replace the underlying roofing material.

The plaza, in addition to being a public outdoor space, is also a large roof covering patient diagnostic and treatment areas and mechanical facilities.

Since that roof dates to the original construction of the plaza in 1977, the work was necessary to keep water from leaking into the areas below.

Part of the restoration was also to create a system that will allow the subsurface to be accessed by Plant Services for maintenance and repair.

“These new systems significantly improve accessibility and Vanderbilt’s ability to troubleshoot any future issues,” said the project’s planning architect, Donald Blair of Blair + Mui Dowd Architects PC.

Blair noted that other features of the finished plaza will be more seating, including benches arranged for small groups to gather; a trellis outside the Courtyard Café to allow more outside dining space; new energy-efficient light fixtures; new signs to direct visitors around what is a significant Medical Center crossroads; and canopies over main building entrances.

The new design also features a large open area between Au Bon Pain and Langford Auditorium to accommodate events such as the Farmers’ Market.

For this year, as plaza work continues, the Farmers’ Market will relocate to the block of Medical Center Drive adjacent to the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital.

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