The Avera Prairie Center exemplifies the message of hope, a symbol of what a community can achieve, and the spirit of the natural beauty that is found in the community and region. This five-story, 260,000 square foot facility has changed the face of cancer care in the entire region and houses the region’s largest comprehensive cancer center with all services needed under one roof, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment to survivorship care. The building also houses a full-service imaging suite, a dedicated Brachytherapy suite, and a state-of-the-art surgical center with eight operating suites.
This one-of-a kind facility’s unique design elements offered several opportunities for the construction team to use their creativity and craftsmanship. The building’s atrium space holds two interior water features with running waterfalls, shot-crete formed rock walls and planters that were crafted and painted to emulate the rock formations in the Black Hills, along with several cherry and maple beams, columns, and 30 foot long curved wood members designed to look like blades of prairie grass. The building exterior also offers several unique features. The large curtainwall system on the main exterior of the building incorporates groupings of 20 to 30 foot aluminum grass reeds set in front of a prairie grass design located on the glazing utilizing a silk screen pattern. In addition, a large section of the building’s roof holds South Dakota’s largest green roof system.
The designers utilized the regional BMP to design a pond and waterfall, which was actually modeled from a specific section of the “Falls” at Falls Park, which gives Sioux Falls its name. The site also houses a 22′ diameter meditative labyrinth area for patients that is surrounded by actual boulders that were received as a gift from Crazy Horse monument located in the Black Hills.
The Avera Prairie Center construction project had a major impact on the community and region. Avera McKennan Hospital and Sioux Falls Construction Company were committed to keep local subcontractors and vendors involved in this monumental project, with over 90 percent of the contracted work and materials coming from local subcontractors and suppliers. It is estimated that over 500 different construction workers from over 70 different companies worked on the project site, while over 1000 workers have been involved in fabrication and delivery of products for the project.
The Avera Prairie Center project was a great example of what can be accomplished when a culture of teamwork is generated, partnerships are developed, and leadership is instituted at all phases in project. The project was completed on schedule by hitting target milestone dates and continuously communicating these goals to all parties involved in the project. The project was completed under budget even as several changes took place throughout the course of the construction phase by the entire team working to continually explore options that would reduce costs without sacrificing the functional or aesthetic design intent.
The project had an impeccable safety performance record, with zero lost time injuries being recorded as a true culture of safety was generated. The project team has estimated that over 475,000 person-hours were worked on the project with zero lost-time accidents or injuries.
The project seemed to generate a positive energy around it that continued to grow from concept to completion. Everyone involved – the users, the planners, the designers, and the builders knew they were a part of something very special that would profoundly impact the lives of so many families in the years to come.
The Avera Prairie Center is truly a landmark project for the city of Sioux Falls and the entire region.