Artist’s rendering of the proposed new AAOS headquarters building and Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC), on the corner of Higgins and River Roads in Rosemont, Ill., showing (left to right) the hotel, parking structure, and headquarters/OLC.
Courtesy of Wright Heerema Architects


Published 9/1/2012
Joshua J. Jacobs, MD

Building for the Future: AAOS Announces Plans to Relocate

Board approves plans to move forward with new construction

After more than 3 years of study by three separate board project teams, the AAOS Board of Directors has approved a plan to construct a new orthopaedic headquarters building in Rosemont, Ill. The new building will include an expanded Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC), the latest in cutting-edge technology and energy-efficient systems, and headquarters space for more than 20 orthopaedic organizations.

Currently, the AAOS is partnering with the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA), and the OLC in a limited liability company, which will own and operate the building. Additional orthopaedic organizations may also join the partnership in the future. It is anticipated that the building will be ready for occupancy in late 2014. In addition, a new hotel will also be constructed on an adjacent land parcel as well as a covered parking deck.

The AAOS moved into its current headquarters building in 1991. The seven-story structure was constructed in 1968 and required significant renovations when AAOS purchased it. Although the building has been well maintained, it cannot adequately support the continued growth of the OLC and the need for additional space by the orthopaedic organizations sharing the structure.

In December 2008, the AAOS Board of Directors appointed a Building Needs Assessment Project Team, chaired by John J. Callaghan, MD, to review the status of the current building and determine whether it would meet the future needs of the AAOS and the orthopaedic organizations it housed. Although the project team recognized the increasing need for more space, it ultimately concluded that the economy was not right for moving forward.

A second Building Needs Assessment Project Team, appointed in March 2010 and chaired by Daniel J. Berry, MD, revisited the issue and identified three separate options for going forward—remaining in the current location, buying or constructing a new building, or leasing space in an existing or new building—and the costs involved with each. By this time, several orthopaedic specialty societies were also looking at options for obtaining additional space, providing additional impetus for making a long-term decision.

Dr. Berry’s project team also investigated several ownership options, if the decision were made to pursue a new building. It solicited the opinions of the orthopaedic organizations, and found several willing to participate as equity partners through a limited liability company. A business plan was developed, covering the critical activities that would be required during the search for a new location.

In February 2011, the Building Needs Assessment Project Team was disbanded and replaced by a Building Pursuit Project Team, which I chair. We met by teleconference on a monthly basis, conducted several webinars for the AAOS Board of Directors and for the orthopaedic organizations housed at 6300 North River Rd., and sponsored a strategic discussion on the future of the OLC to obtain feedback on possible options.

We identified 14 building locations and five existing buildings in the area. The AAOS also engaged outside counsel, a real estate consulting firm, and an architectural firm. After touring several sites, we recommended one at the intersection of River Road and Higgins.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed new AAOS headquarters building and Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC), on the corner of Higgins and River Roads in Rosemont, Ill., showing (left to right) the hotel, parking structure, and headquarters/OLC.
Courtesy of Wright Heerema Architects
Artist’s rendering of the proposed front of the new AAOS headquarters building, on the corner of Higgins and River Roads in Rosemont, Ill. The Orthopaedic Learning Center is on the first floor of the building.
Courtesy of Wright Heerema Architects

The chosen site has several advantages. It is large enough to accommodate our needs and will enable the AAOS, the OLC, and orthopaedic organizations to keep their experienced, quality staff. In addition, the village of Rosemont, Ill., which the AAOS has called “home” for more than 20 years, is being very accommodating. The location remains easily accessible, just minutes away from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and multiple surrounding hotels and restaurants provide opportunities to meet and network.

To continue to provide orthopaedic surgeons with the best in unbiased, accredited, continuing medical education (CME), current plans call for a new, state-of-the-art OLC on the first floor of the new building; AANA, AAOS, and AOSSM will be equity partners in the new OLC.

The new OLC will have more rooms and larger facilities, which can be divided as needed for smaller classes and labs. It will be able to host multiple courses during the same period, enabling the AAOS and other orthopaedic organizations to expand both the breadth of educational programming and the timing of classes.

A new OLC will also provide the latest in cutting-edge technology, particularly for distance learning experiences. Equipped with a high-speed, fiber-optic private network, the OLC will be able to stream high-definition video to support distance learning, thus making it easier for orthopaedic surgeons to obtain necessary CME credits and maintain their skills in a rapidly changing environment. In addition, an expanded portfolio of virtual reality tools, including arthroscopic simulation devices, will enable registrants to hone their skills and improve patient safety.

“The cost of financing a new building has never been lower,” explained Second Vice President Frederick M. Azar, MD, who has served on all three project teams. “We want to take advantage of these low interest rates. In addition, operating costs for the new building will be considerably lower than currently.”

“In looking to the future,” said AAOS President John R. Tongue, MD, “we must be able to anticipate, plan for, and implement change. In our practices and hospitals, we have all seen the consequences of waiting too long to make a move. I am excited about this step and the opportunities it provides to the AAOS as a leader in both orthopaedic education and orthopaedic unity. The process has brought together many of the orthopaedic organizations, and their involvement has been key in making this decision.”

AAOS First Vice-President Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, chairs the Building Pursuit Project Team.

Supporting Unity
The new headquarters building will also serve as a symbol of orthopaedic unity and home to more than 20 orthopaedic organizations, including the following:

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • American Association of Orthopaedic Executives
  • American Joint Replacement Registry
  • American Orthopaedic Association
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons
  • American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Therapists
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics
  • Center for Orthopaedic Trauma Advancement
  • Cervical Spine Research Society
  • Federation of Spine Associations
  • Hip Society
  • International Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology - US Chapter
  • J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society
  • Knee Society
  • National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Physician’s Assistants
  • Operation Walk USA
  • Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation
  • Orthopaedic Research Society
  • Orthopaedic Trauma Association
  • Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America
  • Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society
  • United States Bone and Joint Initiative