The University at Buffalo publicly unveiled today the design for its new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building to be constructed on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo. A groundbreaking for the new seven-story building is set for fall, and construction is expected to be completed in 2016. The new medical school will bring 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students daily to downtown Buffalo.
The signature feature of the new medical school is a light-filled, six-story glass atrium that joins the building’s two L-shaped structures and which includes connecting bridges to adjacent buildings and a stairway that cascades down from south to north. Serving as the building’s main interior “avenue,” the atrium will be naturally illuminated by skylights and two glass walls, one along Washington Street and one at the terminus of Allen Street.
At more than half a million gross square feet, the steel-framed building will be one of the largest constructed in Buffalo in decades.
The building design is produced by HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, which was selected for the project by UB last year after winning an international competition to develop the best design concepts for the new medical school. Since then, the HOK team has worked closely with UB officials, the SUNY Construction Fund and community groups to develop the design best suited to the needs of the medical school while strengthening connections with the surrounding community. The design process is still continuing and is expected to be completed in the next few months.
“The new design allows us to grow our class size from 140 to 180, educating more physicians, many of whom will practice in the region,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the medical school. “It allows UB to hire more talented faculty, bringing to this community much-needed clinical services and medical training programs.”
The new design also provides the most efficient layout for state-of-the-art medical education and research.
“For the first time since the 1950s, when the existing medical school on UB’s South Campus was built, faculty conducting scientific and translational research will be in close proximity to faculty performing clinical care in the hospitals,” Cain said.
By moving the medical school close to UB’s major teaching hospitals and research partners, Cain says that the university will help create an academic and health care powerhouse, on par with academic health centers in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
“The prospect of putting doctors, scientists, medical residents and students together, creating in downtown Buffalo a metropolitan academic medical center is already attracting top clinical and scientific talent to Western New York,” said Cain.
“HOK’s design for UB’s medical school creates the heart for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus while integrating and connecting to the surrounding communities,” said Kenneth Drucker, FAIA, design principal for the project and design director for HOK’s New York office.
“The building’s light-filled atrium will be the focal point for bringing together clinical, basic sciences and educational uses fostering collaboration,” he said.
The new school will be constructed on top of a new Allen/Hospital Metro station, a fact that not only accentuates community connections but also promotes sustainable transportation options, which will help the building achieve LEED gold designation. A pedestrian passageway will extend through the building between Main and Washington streets, leading to Allen Street. To further promote alternative transportation modes, this passageway is deliberately aligned with a proposed Allen Street pedestrian extension from Washington to Michigan streets, which will feature a bike share facility.
The building’s first two floors will house multipurpose educational and community spaces for medical school and community outreach programs, such as the UB mini-medical school and other public health initiatives. The goal is to make the building’s public spaces highly accessible.
A second floor bridge will provide “coatless” access to the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the Conventus medical office building under construction along High Street adjacent to UB’s new medical school.
Floors three through five of the medical school will feature core research facilities as well as approximately 150,000 square feet of state-of-the art research laboratories for faculty in the basic sciences.
“These labs represent an evolution of the modular designs first developed in 2008 for UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and which continued with the CTRC (UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center at 875 Ellicott St.),” explained Cain. “The new lab spaces will allow us to efficiently group faculty by thematic research areas and, because they are modular, we can change their size and configuration as needed.”
The building’s sixth floor will house some of the most advanced and specialized medical education facilities in the U.S., such as an expanded patient care simulation center, which will include the Behling Simulation Center, currently located on UB’s South Campus.
It also will house a surgical simulation center, in which medical students can conduct surgeries in a simulated operating room. A complementary robotic surgery simulation center will train students and physicians in the latest remotely controlled robotic surgery technologies.
The building’s seventh floor will house gross anatomy facilities. The medical school’s administrative offices and academic departments will be located on floors three through seven.
The building will not have its own cafeteria or dining facility.
“We intentionally did not plan for these retail establishments within the building,” explained Laura Hubbard, UB’s vice president for finance and administration. “The design is intentionally encouraging people to go out into the community to purchase food and other items. The university hopes this will provide a significant economic development benefit to the surrounding neighborhoods.”