Erlanger selects HKS / McCarthy for Children’s and Women’s Project; Public invited to free movie premiere of “Louder Than Words”

Erlanger President and CEO Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE said today he was “extremely excited to announce the selection of HKS (architects) and McCarthy (construction manager) as our partners in planning and building the new Children’s and Women’s Hospital for Chattanooga and this region.”  Spiegel said he was also looking forward to hosting the local movie premiere of “Louder than Words” on Thursday, October 30 at the Majestic Theater –  at no charge to the Chattanooga community.

How it happened

Following a national search, including interviews with 25 firms, Erlanger selected two teams for consideration to plan, design and build the first phase of a major campus revitalization at its downtown campus on E. Third Street.  Both teams spent considerable time in Chattanooga.  Following their visits, a team from Erlanger spent two days at each of their respective Atlanta offices.  “This entire process consummated in a unique opportunity for each team to share its early vision of the “Re-Imagined Erlanger” campus with the local community earlier this month,” Spiegel said.

Erlanger’s selection team used this month-long process, along with feedback from the community, to reach a decision in selecting the team of HKS and McCarthy as their partners for this transformational process, according to Erlanger Project Executive Bruce Komiske.

HKS has an international reputation for designing world-class hospitals, having planned over 184 million square feet of healthcare facilities, including 30 million square feet of children’s hospitals.  They have been in business for 75 years, with the last 35 years dedicated to children’s healthcare projects.

McCarthy, an employee-owned company, is celebrating 150 years in business and was recognized by Modern Healthcare as the nation’s number one healthcare contractor, with $3.3 billion in annual billings, including $2.5 billion in children’s and women’s facilities and more than 800 hospitals.

“While statistics are important, the driving factor in our decision was the chemistry that the Erlanger team developed with HKS/McCarthy’s key players selected for our Children’s and Women’s building project,” Komiske said. “They displayed a unique passion both for Chattanooga and Erlanger that clearly indicated this project was not just another commission,” he explained.

HKS/McCarthy will be working out of its Atlanta office, however the team will also establish a design studio on the Erlanger campus.  “They also recognize the critical need to keep as much of the work and dollars spent on the project in Chattanooga and are committed, along with Erlanger, to develop a plan that will assure the community that this will be a priority,” Komiske emphasized.

Chattanooga movie premiere

Area residents interested in meeting the winning design team are invited to attend the special Chattanooga premiere showing of the movie “Louder than Words” on Thursday, October 30, at 6 p.m. at the Majestic Theater downtown.  Tickets to the film are free and can be obtained by sending an RSVP to  The real-life couple who were the inspiration for this film will also be attending the Chattanooga movie premiere.

“Louder than Words” is a Hollywood production based on the real life story of a child who died from rabies and how his parents, John and Brenda Fareri, and their triplets, deal with her death by creating a new children’s hospital in their community.

“What makes this movie relevant to Erlanger and Chattanooga,” noted Komiske, “is that the original hospital featured in this movie, Westchester Medical Center, was a public, safety net hospital with the same services, programs and specialists as Erlanger, but the facilities were lacking.”

“Westchester Medical Center had no history of philanthropy and had to create a grass roots campaign to make a new children’s hospital a reality – just as Erlanger is preparing to do,” said Spiegel, who served as COO of Westchester Medical Center at the time this building project was launched.  “They were successful in creating a children’s hospital that has become a model for healing environments around the world, and has had to expand three times since opening 10 years ago,” Spiegel said.

The couple portrayed in the movie, John Fareri (who was played by David Ducovny) and Brenda Fareri (played by Hope Davis) will join those attending the Chattanooga premiere and be on hand to discuss the challenges they faced, along with Kevin Spiegel.   Members of the winning design/construction team will also be at the Majestic Theater Thursday with artistic renderings of their plans, and be available for questions and feedback from attendees.