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Highland Hospital’s Patient Tower Project

Tower Project image

Highland’s Tower Project is a modernization effort that will enable the hospital to provide private rooms for nearly all of our patients. The project was developed as a component of Highland’s strategic plan.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has helped to highlight that private rooms are critical for patient care. They provide many benefits including a reduced risk of infections, more space for patient needs, and the positive therapeutic impact of more privacy and less noise during recovery. Private rooms are becoming a standard of care for hospitals nationwide.

This tower will add to the existing hospital campus without the hospital having to expand its footprint. The project will add four levels plus a mechanical penthouse to the hospital’s southeast wing – three of the floors will house a total of 58 patient rooms and one floor will house other clinical programs. There will also be a small seven story infill between the existing three-story building and the existing South Wing. 

It is imperative that Highland Hospital continue to modernize our facility to provide the highest-quality patient- and family-centered care, now and into the future. Parts of Highland’s campus are nearly 95 years old, and some patient spaces do not meet the current industry standards for health care facilities. We are excited about what this project will mean for the future of serving our community. If you have questions, you’re welcome to click on the “Contact Us” button in the left hand navigation tab.

Construction Timeline:

*Dates subject to change due to weather and other potential construction issues*


  • Foundation for Tower Crane, Exterior Demolition – March 2021
  • Removal of Existing Fuel Tank – end of March, early April 2021
  • Concrete Foundations, Roof Replacement on South Addition, Raising Grade to Mt. Vernon - April, May 2021
  • Tower Crane Erection – July 2021
  • Structural Steel erection begins – August 2021
  • Estimated Project Completion – Spring 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the current status of the Tower Project?

Following the approval of the Building Permit Application, work was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction was delayed while our hospital prepared for a possible drastic increase in patients. Now that more is known about the COVID-19 virus and how our community can prevent transmissions, we’re getting ready for the future by continuing with construction starting in October 2020. Construction is now estimated to be finished at the end of 2023 as a result of this delayed start.

What is micropiling? 

A Micropile is a method of drilling into the ground. Micropiles are generally used when there are difficult ground conditions, such as natural or man-made obstructions, sensitive ground with adjacent structures, and/or limited access to an area.

What was the result of the test piles that Highland drilled back in the spring? 

Results of the vibration monitoring indicated that, while drilling was occurring, any vibrations recorded were extremely low. 

What is a tower crane? 

A tower crane is a fixed crane that is mounted on-site and is used to build high towers. The vertical metallic structure has a horizontal boom with a 360° rotation for moving construction materials.

Where will the tower crane be located on Highland’s campus? 

The tower crane will be located within the southeast area of the construction limits at the edge of the hospital’s property line.

 Crane location

What safety measures are being taken to ensure the crane is working properly?

There are multiple agencies involved in tower crane permitting and safety regulations. The City of Rochester issues the actual permit along with FAA for the air space. The tower crane foundations are required to be designed by a licensed structural engineer and inspected by the regulatory agencies along with a 3rd party certified inspector.  The tower crane is required to be installed by a licensed certified Rigging contractor for the specific model tower crane. It is then inspected by the regulatory agencies and 3rd party inspection agencies during the assembly and prior to authorizing it for use.

Additionally, the base of the tower crane will have a locking 8’ barbed wire fence surrounding the foundation to limit access to authorized personnel only. 

The Crane operators are fully licensed and certified for the specific model crane with shift limits. The crane operators will be LeChase employees with many years of experience on this specific crane. The crane operators are responsible for daily inspections while a 3rd party certified crane inspection is required monthly and annually.  

Why are some of the windows pushed out as part of the tower design?

When Highland’s most recent addition was built in 2016, the footprint was designed so that a tower could be built on top if more space was needed in the future. Once the proposed patient tower was in the design phase, we realized the hospital needed a number of larger rooms for patients of size. The rooms that jut out of the building are built to accommodate the need for this extra space.

I’ve heard there will be road access from Mt. Vernon Ave. to the hospital driveway. Is this true?

As part of this construction project, the level of the hospital’s back loop is being raised to be on the same level as Mt. Vernon Ave. A gated entrance will be put in place of the fence that stands on Mt. Vernon Ave. today. This addition to the project is required by the Rochester Fire Department so firefighters can easily access the tower in case of an emergency. This entrance will only be used by the Rochester Fire Department or by our Facilities Department, should the need arise for large snow removal efforts. The gate will be locked when not in use.

Will lights in the building be minimized at night?

Occupancy sensors are installed in public areas such as stairwells so that lights will automatically be dimmed when they’re not in use, but patients will be in charge of the dimmer light switches in their individual rooms. Most patients do opt to turn off their room lights at night.

How will Highland continue to address parking?

We continue to explore solutions that would expand our number of parking spaces for staff to minimize neighborhood impact, including expanding our current shuttling system and creating new outpatient offices offsite. For example, in 2018 Highland moved the outpatient Cardiology services to Red Creek, which shifted the parking needs of 60-to-120 patients a day and more than 30 employees. 

Will this impact the levels of traffic in the neighborhood?

Highland conducted a traffic study in 2015 that showed we are still below the traffic threshold that would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

What’s being done to mitigate noise levels in the future mechanical penthouse?

One of the reasons the mechanical penthouse is being fully enclosed is to reduce noise levels in the neighborhood. A sound study is being conducted, as has been with past projects, to figure out the best ways to reduce noise. The hospital plans on utilizing the same technology as it used last time to reduce noise in the mechanical penthouse built in 2016 but we are looking into other noise reducing techniques as well.

One of the new floors would be for other clinical programs and another floor is strictly for the building’s mechanicals. Why must these floors be part of the tower?

The three patient care room levels must be fifth floor and above due to the requirement for windows in every patient room. The fourth floor will be for other clinical programs, which is essential for the hospital’s ability to function, but does not require windows. The mechanical level that’s currently on the top (third floor) of the South Addition will remain, as it supplies the mechanics for the operating rooms on the first floor. Another mechanical penthouse will be added to the top of the new addition to accommodate the medical equipment needed to run the new floors.

Where will the hospital build next on its campus? Will they buy neighboring properties to host future additions?

Currently, we do not have any plans for new buildings beyond the private bed addition. Highland is continually modernizing space within the existing buildings, which is historically where most of the hospital’s construction has taken place. The south addition was added in 2016, but the last major change in the hospital footprint before that was the front lobby/garage rebuild in the 1980s.

Has Highland worked with its neighbors on this project?

Since 2014, Highland officials have met regularly with two groups. One is a steering committee focused on zoning and construction projects. The goal of the other is to promote healthy dialog between Highland and its neighbors about day-to-day concerns, such as parking and noise. 

How can I receive updates about this project and other projects going on at Highland Hospital?

You can receive emails that are sent out when this blog is updated by clicking on “Sign Up for Updates” in the navigation bar on the left.