New Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside. Photo courtesy of UPMC.

In a press conference last November, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff said that over the next five years, he wanted to make UPMC into the “Amazon of healthcare.” This week, Pittsburghers got their first look at how this wild ambition might look.

On Sept. 26, the health enterprise unveiled designs and project timelines for three new state-of-the-art hospital complexes in Oakland, Shadyside and Uptown. Altogether, the new facilities will cost around $2 billion to construct, and will further cement UPMC as a national and potentially even world leader in healthcare.

Rendering of the planned UPMC Presbyterian heart and transplant center. Courtesy of UPMC.

The Uptown building will be an expansion of the existing UPMC Mercy Hospital and will be focused on ophthalmologic research and eye care. In addition to working with designers from HOK Architecture and local firm IKM to plan the space, UPMC also worked with Chris Downey, an architect who specializes in designs for the blind, and who is himself legally blind.

The Oakland location will add a heart and transplant center to UPMC Presbyterian, beefing up the hospital system’s already world-renowned organ transplant services. According to a press release from UPMC, the new building will take advantage of the stunning views and green spaces found atop “cardiac hill,” and will emphasize the “healing power of nature” alongside innovative approaches to heart health. The space was designed by IKM and the international firm HGA.

And in Shadyside, the new hospital will specialize in the study and treatment of cancer. In addition to expanded space for patients, doctors and medical students, the “hospital floors and patient rooms are designed to accommodate robots to deliver critical medical supplies,” says the press release. The robot-friendly space was designed by local architect Radelet McCarthy Polletta and NBBJ.

While their focuses are different, each of the new hospitals is designed both architecturally and conceptually to remove the distance between patient care and the cutting-edge research and emerging technologies coming from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as from Carnegie Mellon and other health-focused entrepreneurs in the city.

“This is where, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, we will take the research advances that are in the laboratory today directly and swiftly to our patients to provide highly personalized, effective and compassionate care,” says Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical and scientific officer with UPMC. “We are creating an environment where bench-to-bedside treatments will be expedited, and we know that doing this will radically change health care as we know it.”

Groundbreakings for each project will come in spring and summer of 2019. The Mercy Hospital expansion is due to open in 2021, while the Oakland and Shadyside buildings are expected to open in 2023.

Rendering of the planned eye care facility at UPMC Mercy Hospital. Courtesy of UPMC.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.