The University of Utah School of Medicine opens an exciting new workplace connected to the medical campus by a new sky bridge. 

The glass panels of the new HELIX Tower at the University of Utah reflect the spring sky. The western portion faces a paved access lot set over a parking lot. Newly finished, Okland Construction built it, MHTN Architects handled the design, and Civil Solutions Group managed the engineering challenges. 

Looking at the building from the southwest corner, it shows the sky bridge connecting to the fifth level and the sloping site in the medical complex. The 259,000 square-foot building features an elaborate foundation system to support itself given the conditions of the sloping site and the parking garage that includes a shoring wall and pilings. 

From the southeast corner, metal towers support the 422-foot sky bridge as it spans across to connect with the Moran Eye Center and a continuation of the sky bridge system above the medical campus to the hospitals. TRAX lines run along busy Mario Capecchi Drive along the east side of the HELIX Tower. Across to the east is the Primary Children’s emergency room and hospital. 

Looking up the stairway along the south side, the design of the metal tower supporting the sky bridge works well with the streetscape.

The east side entry welcomes visitors into the main level, above the ground level. Metal screens patterned in a helix pattern partially cover some of the windows in a play on words, as HELIX actually stands for Healthcare Educators, Leaders and Innovations CompleX. It’s the new offices for 1200 full-time employees and 400 medical residences with departmental space for anesthesiology, dermatology, family and preventative medicine, OBGYN, pediatrics, radiology, and surgery formerly housed in the School of Medicine building that is scheduled for demolition. 

Entering the main level, a wide area with elevator banks and open casual seating greets you. One of the key design considerations for the interior is collaboration space, and it is theme that runs throughout. 

Staying on the same floor to the east is a seating area defined both by its ceiling treatment and carpeting. The artistic glass treatment provides privacy for the adjacent office.

Stepping into the office, workspace options include open desks with low privacy panels and individual screened desks with seats that recline and ottomans. The computers were to be installed the following day. Against the privacy glass is casual seating for relaxed collaboration. 

Here is an example of one of the many training rooms in the tower. 

Similarly, there are multiple conference rooms equipped with white boards and sophisticated videoconferencing. 

Each medical discipline has offices and clinic space. In one, rows of private glassed offices with sliding glass doors open to a common worktable.

The elevators on the 5th floor open to this large social space with amazing views to downtown Salt Lake and the Great Salt Lake. 

Also on the 5th floor is the connection to the sky bridge, which offers more incredible views. 

I’ll close with a final shot of the sky bridge and TRAX stop where I happened to capture the medical helicopter approaching a landing at Primary Children’s Hospital. Perhaps you can get a sense of the surges in intense activity in the area. 

The HELIX Tower promotes sustainability in its design. I understand it meets Utah’s High Performance Building Standards, and it has pending a LEED’s Silver certification. 

My personal last observations is to appreciate the incredible number of people who work at the medical facilities at this location at the U. I was there over two days making the photos, and I observed so many people who spend their days giving healing comfort to others. At the end of the day, many exhausted faces crossed my path. I will close with my thanks for those who work in health care. You make such a difference for so many. 

See more of Scot Zimmerman’s Photo Friday galleries here.

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