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Benches, trees highlight VUMC Plaza renovation

Mar. 31, 2016, 12:33 PM

The Medical Center campus looks different yet again as the latest phase of the plaza renovation, the space in front of Light Hall, has reopened for pedestrian traffic.

Built-in benches, decorative planters and large crepe myrtle trees welcome staff and visitors to the renovated Medical Center Plaza. (photo by John Russell)

The new space includes 10 new built-in benches, which are accompanied by 12 large architectural planters, each one holding a 15-foot crepe myrtle tree. Also, the Light Hall portico facing the plaza has been enclosed in metal and lightly tinted glass, providing an exterior that echoes nearby Medical Research Building 4.

“The plaza forms the roof for various patient treatment and diagnostic areas, as well as important mechanical facilities also located below. Due to decades of wear and degradation of the water barrier beneath the old brick surface, this renovation has been essential to the continued use of the facilities below,” said John F. Manning Jr., Ph.D., MBA, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer.

The plaza, built in 1977 during the construction of Vanderbilt University Hospital, is receiving its first restoration in a multi-phased project. And in the process the plaza itself is being reconfigured and updated.

“We hope that our faculty and staff will enjoy the new amenities that are being incorporated into the renovation, including seating and landscaping, which are designed to create maximum use of the space,” he said.

The roof/plaza project was launched in March 2014 and is scheduled to conclude in August. Phase seven of the 10- phase project starts today.

According to Terry Ralph, senior construction coordinator, phase seven of the roof/plaza project, covering the area immediately adjacent to Vanderbilt University Hospital, will take six to seven weeks to complete. The various hospital entrances on the plaza will each receive glass canopies, making their location immediately apparent from anywhere on the plaza.

In the renovation, the old brick-and-mortar surface is being replaced with concrete pavers set in sand, which provide easier access to the area’s substructure. For fire truck access, the new surface also features a central lane made of aggregate.

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