You might have seen it happening over the past few months, reaching to the sky with its shiny exterior and gleaming panels. In Lawrenceville, the new tower at Northside Hospital Gwinnett is growing tall. The need for the tower really comes from the benefit of Gwinnett County. We’re a growing county (because who wouldn’t want to live here?), and with more people there is more need for inpatient beds, doctors and care. 

It hasn’t been a straight shot process, but Northside officials haven’t let that keep them from reaching for the sky. In the original project plans, the tower would have been 257 feet and six inches, 17 stories tall total. After consultations with the Federal Aviation Administration, it was decided the structure would need to be shorter for flight safety. With the Gwinnett County Airport at Briscoe Field in the near vicinity, they needed to be sure the tower wouldn’t interfere with planes! 

“We’re right there and taking care of the patients in front of us to the highest quality.”

– Steve Aslinger, Director of Facilities Planning Northside Hospital System.

The tower will now be lowered by two stories, but it is still on track to have significantly more beds and be the largest facility in the Northside system. The new height is projected to be an impressive 230 feet…that’s taller than both the Cinderella Castle at Disneyland and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

The project to build the seven additional floors was officially approved in winter of 2022. Originally, Northside already had approval to build the first ten floors and pushed for seven more in December. The tower will be part of a renovated and upgraded Gwinnett campus. According to a press release, out of the expected patient beds, a third will be designated to critical care and the remaining two-thirds will be for intermediate and acute care patients. 

“We started as a 10 story tower and tried to go to 17 stories and realized we are in the airspace of the airport, so we’re limited to 15 stories,” said Steve Aslinger, Director of Facilities Planning at the Northside Hospital System. Luckily, they’ve found a great solution to making sure they meet the inpatient bed need. “We’ve come back around with a plan and have converted what was the Gwinnett extended care center, the nursing home behind the hospital, into a 48 bed inpatient nursing unit.”

Gwinnettians can also expect a much larger parking deck (we’re talking 1800 spaces!), a new cafeteria, new patio, new lobby, larger patient rooms and a new medical office. The approximately 150,000 square foot medical office building will be able to house a variety of physician practices, ranging from head to toe. One big feature? The building will have outpatient imaging and a cardiovascular diagnostics center. The facility will relocate their outpatient surgery to the new building, which will alleviate the chaos of day visits and allow room for improved technology. While the tower might not open till summer of 2025, the initial hospital services will be open by the end of May. 

The new renovations and projects are partially about reducing wait times and making it easier for people to get the care they need. Gwinnett County is growing rapidly, approaching a million residents, and the local hospitals and healthcare need to match that. Worried about the traffic? Don’t be! Another improvement in the works is the slip ramp funded by the city of Lawrenceville. As you approach 316, towards Athens, if you get in the far right lane of the exit ramp you’ll be going directly to the hospital. It will mitigate the congestion, eliminate the merging traffic and make the process more efficient for everyone. It’s a $1.6 million project designed to enhance the ability of easy access to the hospital and its services. This will be in addition to the other hospital entrances. 

“We’re right there and taking care of the patients in front of us to the highest quality,” said Aslinger. “We’re bringing the clinical needs to meet the high end, as well as provide the volume that is needed.” 

Gwinnett Campus Expansion Summary:

  • 15 story tower
  • New cafeteria and new kitchen
  • New patio for patient use
  • New lobby space
  • Retreat areas and greenspace 
  • Patient room upgrades and  accommodation spaces
  • Diverse surgical staff from a range of specialties
  • Innovative imaging capabilities and technology
  • A parking deck with 1800 spaces
  • Slip ramp from 316