Post-Acute & Senior Living: $550M rehab hospital set to open

Rebranded AgilityLab facility will replace the Rehabiltation Institute of Chicago

By Murray W. Wolf

The new $550 million, 27-story, 242-bed Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is scheduled to open March 25 at 355 E. Erie St. in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, replacing and rebranding the 182-bed Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) hospital at 345 E. Superior St. (Rendering courtesy of RIC)

The new $550 million, 27-story, 242-bed Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is scheduled to open March 25 at 355 E. Erie St. in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The new facility will replace, rebrand and expand the 182-bed Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) hospital at 345 E. Superior St. As with RIC, the new facility will serve patients with complex conditions who still need care and rehab services after they leave acute care hospitals.

By putting researchers, clinicians and patients under one roof, hospital officials say, the AbilityLab will be a “translational” facility, meaning it will facilitate the translation of basic scientific findings in a lab setting into potential patient treatments.

About 800,000 square feet of the 1.2 million square foot AbilityLab will dedicated to clinical/research programs – nearly three times RIC’s current research space. Hospital executives say the facility will have the world’s only ability labs. The five differentiated labs will include: Think + Speak (speech & cognition), Arm + Hand (fine motor), Legs + Walking (gait & locomotion), Strength + Endurance (total body) and Pediatrics (all abilities for kids).

The AbilityLab will house new care support capabilities including an imaging and interventional suite with MRI and CT scanning capabilities, ultrasound, fluoroscopy, DEXA and bone density diagnostics, and a Medically Advanced Care Unit (MAC-U).

The facility will also have an outpatient care facility four times the size of the current space.

Public spaces in the AbilityLab will include a Sky Lobby (a two-story reception on the 10th floor), the Nancy Knowles Garden (an outdoor green area connected to the Sky Lobby), the Henry B. Betts LIFE Center (a patient and family resource center), a spiritual center and a conference center.

The Chicago offices of architecture firms HDR and Gensler partnered on the project. The contractors were James McHugh Construction Co. and Power Construction Co., both of Chicago.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is named after the wife of Patrick Ryan, the founder and former CEO of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. The hospital has not disclosed how much the Ryans donated, but their gift is said to be the largest donation it’s ever received.

As of March 14, RIC was nearing its $350 million fundraising goal for the AbilityLab. The remaining $200 million is being funded with cash flow, existing funds, new debt and the sale of the old RIC flagship hospital.

According to the commercial real estate website Curbed.com, RIC acquired the property for the new building by engaging in a land swap with the Chicago-based CRE firm Golub & Co. Golub had been planning to develop apartments at the site, but swapped the property for a RIC employee parking lot at McClurg Court and Grand Avenue, where it has developed the 45-story, 490-unit Moment apartment tower that opened last summer.

At one time, the site was the location for the television station of Chicago’s CBS affiliate before they moved to a street level studio space at Block 37. Among other things, the studio was the site of the first televised presidential debate, which was held on Sept. 26, 1960, between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

RIC bills itself as “the nation’s leading provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world.” Founded in 1953, RIC has been designated the “No. 1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC is particularly known for applied research in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer.

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