ROANOKE, Virginia. – A red tower crane rises in the Star City skyline.

It is 240 feet tall and will be critical to the construction of the Carilion Clinic’s new Crystal Spring Tower, an extension of the Roanoke Memorial Hospital with 64 new cardiovascular patient rooms, a parking garage, and a relocated and expanded emergency room.

“This day really marks the beginning of the tower,” said Josh Farr, superintendent of Robins & Morton Branch Builds. “Today is the day that this helps us to go vertically.”

The crane will be the second tallest structure in Southwest Virginia, alongside the Wells Fargo Building. It’s so big that the crews needed another 500-ton crane to build it.

“With a stationary tower crane that can maneuver around the site without our having to move, we can continue construction on this cramped site and keep the hospital operational around the site,” said Farr.

Marty Misicko, Vice President of Facilities and Construction for the Carilion Clinic, with $ 400 million and 500,000 square feet, said the expansion will better serve the community. He added that the need for this new building had come to the fore during the pandemic.


“It made us rethink the size of our hospital and what we have for the community and the beds available,” Misicko said. “And that will surely help with that.”

A project of this size poses a number of challenges. Architects had to design it in a confined space on a hill and bypass existing utility facilities. In addition, the height of the crane requires special care on helicopters transporting patients.

“You really have to think about helicopter safety, which took a lot of coordination with Carilion’s safety department,” said Farr. “We actually installed a light and flag, just like the crane will have, so the helicopters can actually see.”

When designing the building, the architects had to get creative to deal with the labor and material shortages due to COVID-19.

“Wood, copper, steel, even concrete and other building materials often have a residue,” said Sam Burnette, director of Earl Swensson Associates (ESa), the project architect.


The closure of the lanes on McClanahan Street SW and Jefferson Street will take a few more months. The completed expansion is scheduled to open in January 2025.

“It’s the reality,” said Misicko. “It’s happening right now.”

You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.