Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa

Article excerpt

What a difference a good paint job makes.

When visitors walk around the 1.6-million-square-foot Hillcrest Medical Center, they might notice some different architectural touches from time to time, or a few contrasting fixtures or fittings, but all in all, the general hospital structure presents a fairly strong commonality expected of coordinated construction.

Outside the jagged roofline, few elements give away the truth.

"It's hard to tell this is not all one building," said Jon Mercer, administrative director of facilities management for Hillcrest Health Care System's Oklahoma Division. "There's actually 20 buildings on campus. We have them all tied together so when you look at it, you don't realize it's multiple buildings."

From the first structure finished in 1928, what became known as Hillcrest Medical Center used a number of different architects and contractors to raise the current campus. Sometimes they tore down structures and replaced them, said Mercer, and other times they simply gutted and renovated them.

But a few consistent factors helped Hillcrest maintain a sense of uniformity. From its earliest days as Morningside Hospital, Mercer said Hillcrest chose to make poured-in-place concrete structures with brick veneer.

"We don't have any steel structures," he said. "The problem with steel is they're not as sound-deadening. And it (concrete) will last a lot longer."

Mercer also gives a lot of credit to the hospital's unifying paint program, finished in 1995.

"Once it's painted, it all starts to look like one building instead of multiple buildings," he said. "In April, we're going to start painting again."

Hillcrest's 12th Street and Utica campus started when Morningside Hospital, a birthing center born from the 1918 influenza epidemic, established its first permanent facility in 1928. The operation became a civic nonprofit with its 1940 incorporation as Hillcrest Memorial Hospital. Following the Second World War's end, Hillcrest started an expansion period in both programs and brick and mortar that continues to this present day, with some convergent interests over the last few decades to building regional clinics, physician buildings or satellite hospitals. …

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