New Joplin hospital chooses brick construction for tornado resistance

Mercy Hospital Joplin will use clay brick exteriors, known for their tornado-resistant attributes, in the construction of the new hospital.

By Healthcare Facilities Today
April 18, 2013

In May 2011, an EF-5 rated tornado completely destroyed St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., killing six people. In the new hospital, Mercy Hospital Joplin, harder, tornado-resistant exteriors will employ a combination of masonry and glass.

The new seven-story 875,000-square-foot facility will use clay brick exteriors on the first and second floors. Expected to be completed in early 2015, the $350 million hospital's higher exteriors will be precast concrete with brick veneer.

The old hospital's exterior — mostly glass, some metal panels and precast concrete on the main hospital with some exterior insulation finishing system — failed to withstand the 2011 tornado's wind and debris, says the Brick Industry Association (BIA). 

Patient areas in the new hospital will be clad in either reinforced concrete, stone and brick, or precast concrete, says John Farnen, executive director of strategic projects for owner Mercy Health System.

Farnen says the hardened exterior adds just 2 to 3 percent to the construction cost, according to BIA.

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