Cleveland, OH,
12:12 PM

Coming soon: a mock-up of the new MetroHealth hospital’s exterior

If you’re going to hang wallpaper at home, the experts recommend that you start the job somewhere out of sight, like in the closet or behind a door.

The reason? You need to see how the wallpaper performs – how it fits together, how it adheres to the walls and, of course, how it looks. You also want to make sure you are doing things perfectly before you move on to the walls that really count, like in the grand foyer.

We’re going to do something similar with our new hospital – no, not with wallpaper but with the actual terracotta and glass exterior of the new building. And because the entire hospital is a grand foyer, on display to the whole community, we don’t have an inconspicuous spot to practice on.

So we’re going to build one.

It’s called a visual mock-up, and it’s essentially a wall, about 23 feet wide and 20 feet tall, for us to see how the exterior components of the hospital fit together. Mock-ups are common for larger projects like ours.

Our mock-up will be constructed this summer on the green at Main Campus. We’re putting it there because we want everyone to see how the exterior materials for the new hospital are going to look. But the reasons for building a mock-up go way beyond the cosmetic.

The exterior of our new hospital is going to be a “unitized curtain wall,” which is a fancy way of describing the modern way we’re going to be constructing the skin of the building.

Our new hospital is going to feature an all-glass exterior on the south side of the structure and a mixture of glass and sculpted white terracotta on the north side. But our team will not be affixing individual tiles or panes of glass to the building.

Instead, the exterior of the building will arrive in pre-fabricated panels, the glass and terracotta already in place. Each panel will then be securely affixed in its spot, connecting snugly with the panels above, below and around it. The benefits of this system are numerous, according to Walter Jones, Senior Vice President, Campus Transformation:

  • It’s safer. Unitized curtain walls can be installed with the crew working inside the building. No outside scaffolding is needed.
  • It’s quicker. The detail work of pre-fabricating the panels is done off-site, at the same time other construction is taking place on the building.
  • The quality is better. Because the panels are manufactured in a factory, we have much better control of the final product.
  • It’s cheaper. The efficiencies of the process and uniformity of the panels will save on labor and material costs, and the improved safety should save us on insurance.

Once the visual mock-up is complete in August, it will give us the chance to see how the panels fit together, how they line up and how they look. We’ll be able to correct any flaws and perfect the design and fit before the real panels are manufactured.

The result is going to look – and perform – better than even the most flawless wallpaper job.

About the MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit