240-ft. crane rises in Roanoke’s skyline as Crystal Spring Tower construction begins

The tower is part of Carilion’s Roanoke Memorial Hospital expansion

You may have noticed something new along the Star City starline.

ROANOKE, Va. – Rising in the Star City skyline is a red tower crane.

At 240 feet tall, it’ll be critical for the construction of Carilion Clinic’s new Crystal Spring Tower, an expansion of Roanoke Memorial Hospital with 64 new cardiovascular patient rooms, a parking garage and a relocated and expanded ER.

“This day today really signifies the start of the tower,” said Josh Farr, the superintendent for Robins & Morton Branch Builds. “Today is the day that this supports us going vertical.”

The crane will be the second tallest structure in Southwest Virginia, besides the Wells Fargo building. It’s so tall that crews needed another 500-ton crane to build it.

“Having a stationary tower crane that can maneuver around the job site without actually having to move, allows us to continue that construction on this tight site, as well as keep the hospital operational around the job site,” said Farr.

At $400 million and 500,000 square feet, Carilion Clinic Vice President of Facilities and Construction Marty Misicko said the expansion will better serve the community. He added that the need for this new building was brought to the forefront during the pandemic.

“It made us rethink the size of our hospital and what we have for the community and beds that are available,” said Misicko. “And this is certainly going to help with that.”

A project this size comes with a few challenges. Architects had to design it in a tight space, on a hill, and work around existing utilities. Plus, the height of the crane means helicopters transporting patients have to be extra careful.

“You really got to think about helicopter safety, which was a lot of coordination with Carilion’s safety department,” said Farr. “We actually installed a light and a flag, just as the crane will have, so that the helicopters can actually see.”

When designing the building, architects had to get creative while dealing with labor and material shortages due to COVID-19.

“Lumber, copper, steel, even concrete and other building materials have many times a backlog,” said Sam Burnette, the principal for Earl Swensson Associates (ESa), the project architect.

Lane closures on McClanahan Street SW and Jefferson Street will last a few more months. The finished expansion should open in January of 2025.

“It’s reality,” said Misicko. “It’s happening.”

You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

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