If a major earthquake ever hits San Bernardino's new county hospital, it's designed to react like a building in a big bathtub.
It would move, all right, but more slowly and less forcefully than the ground around it, according to the engineers who have designed the five-building Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, set to open early next year.
Key seismic safeguards? A bed of giant, circular "base isolators," made of bonded layers of rubber and steel, are sandwiched between each building and its foundation. Multiple shock absorbers connect each building with its cushion bed. A series of portals connect the center's main, six-story patient tower with a diagnostic and treatment center and an outpatient clinic.
If the Big One should strike, "that's the place I'd hope to be," said Michael Bolen, president of Newport Beach-based McCarthy, which co-managed the hospital's construction. "It's the one hospital that's got by far the highest likelihood of being in operation afterward."