University Hospital selects Gensler to create new master plan design

Shereef Elnahal speaks at the event. (Twitter)

Newark’s University Hospital is one step closer to creating a new hospital campus. On Tuesday, it said it awarded a contract to global architecture firm Gensler to create a master plan for a new hospital that would not only bring new facilities, but also serve as a modern, transformative investment into the health of residents in greater Newark.

The selection of Gensler comes after a competitive selection process from qualified firms to provide professional planning services for the development of a campus redesign.

The new University Hospital logo. (University Hospital)

This announcement is the latest step in a process that began with the pledge of $500,000 from the state of New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget to support planning efforts for a new hospital campus. That pledge was announced in mid-April 2021 by New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and other state and local officials.

“As we move forward in our recovery from COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of the critical role that our health care system plays in the state. That is why Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s budget includes significant quality of life investments to help make New Jersey a healthier place to live for all our residents,” said Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, in announcing the study’s funding last April. “This proposed funding for University Hospital, for a study to explore a new plan and design for its physical campus here in Newark, is going to help address the hospital’s needs and allow it to improve the delivery of care that our communities so heavily rely on, especially as we endure this pandemic.”

“First and foremost, the Newark Accords called for us to provide high quality, equitable health care for people in Newark and Essex County,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, CEO and president of University Hospital. “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the growing primary care needs of our community, a community that was disproportionally impacted by every adverse health outcome in this pandemic. As a result, we have never been busier meeting the growing health needs of our community, and our patients and families deserve a large investment into the infrastructure of their hospital to serve them. This will not be another ivory tower — it will be designed with and for the greater Newark community and use the best of technology to meet that demand.”

“This isn’t just an opportunity to help University Hospital plan for the future of their existing facilities,” said James Crispino, principal and health care leader at Gensler. “It is an opportunity to further define a longstanding anchor institution for health and advanced medical care for the greater Newark community.”

The current 519-bed University Hospital, which opened in 1979, has been relying on its aging infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the community it serves without any major capital investment since first opening its doors.

As it is the Level 1 Trauma Center for northern New Jersey, the institution and the community also would benefit from new and expanded capacity to deliver comprehensive care for its patients. And, as the principal teaching hospital for all Newark-based medical education — UH is the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, among other programs — a new University Hospital facility also will serve as a model for the future of academic medicine and public health, providing a premier regional resource for advanced services across many medical specialties, he said.

UH operates the Rutgers Health at University Hospital Ambulatory Care Center, which includes in its operations both primary and specialty clinics. In addition, University Hospital is affiliated with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

The new master plan will address the driving issues and principles of the present and establish a path for the next several decades. Gensler will be expected to provide an actionable plan that will help UH create state-of-the-art, fiscally responsible solutions for the future.