CHICAGO (CBS) — Rush University Medical Center on Thursday is dedicating its new, state-of-the-art hospital building.

The new 14-story building, located at Ashland Avenue and Congress Parkway, will 830,000 square feet of space to the medical center. Commuters on the Eisenhower Expressway have been spent the past three years watching the construction of the building, called “The Tower,” for which ground was broken in September 2008.

The $654 million hospital building includes 324 adult and critical care beds on the top five floors, which are named the Herb Family Acute and Critical Care Tower.

The ground floor will be occupied by the McCormick Foundation Center for Advanced Emergency Response, a unit designed to care for mass-casualty victims in case of an infectious disease outbreak, a biological or chemical attack, or a hazardous materials spill. The center includes an advanced emergency room with 60 treatment bays.

At the base of the building, the hospital has put together an “interventional platform,” which combines units for diagnostic testing, surgery, interventional services and recovery within close proximity of each other to improve convenience for patients.

The building also includes an advanced imaging center for such procedures as MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds.

The distinctive butterfly-shaped design of the Tower has a practical purpose. Rush says it provides more efficient space for staff and improves safety and comfort.

The Tower is also the first completely green hospital in Chicago. The building was designed to conserve energy and water and reduce waste, and was constructed with sustainable building materials.

The Tower is the keystone of a 10-year, $1 billion transformation plan at Rush. The plan has also involved the renovation of some existing buildings, and the demolition of numbers buildings that have been deemed obsolete – even though some are considered historic.

Demolition began three years ago with the Marshall Field IV building, a midcentury building at 1720 W. Polk St. that housed the Rush Day School program. Plans are also in place to demolish several other structures, including the Murdock and Jones buildings, which house the current emergency room, and the Rawson and Senn buildings, which house the outpatient psychiatric unit.

The buildings are all located on the west end of the Rush campus, along Congress Parkway and Harrison Street west of Paulina Street. They are also all historic; the oldest, the Jones Building, dates from 1888 and originally housed the patient wards at the old Presbyterian Hospital.

Last month, Jonathan Fine of Preservation Chicago told the Chicago Journal his group was not happy about the historic buildings being demolished, but that fighting to save them was not worth it. He said they all started out as elegant Victorian buildings, but have been “remuddled” over the years, the publication reported.

Rush University Medical Center is one of the city’s oldest hospitals. Its precursor, Rush Medical College, was chartered on March 2, 1837, two days before the City of Chicago was incorporated.

The current Rush University Medical Center resulted in the merger of Rush Medical College and the adjoining Presbyterian and St. Luke’s hospitals.

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