Published April 10, 2013
The University at Buffalo has unveiled the dramatic design for its new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.
At more than half a million gross square feet, the seven-story steel-framed building will be one of the largest constructed in Buffalo in decades.
A groundbreaking is set for fall, and construction is expected to be completed in 2016.
The building design by HOK—a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm—was selected through an international competition.
“A medical school with such a profound impact needs a truly world-class design, and HOK has clearly delivered just that,” says UB President Satish K. Tripathi.
“What’s on the horizon is more than a new era for our medical school and a major new milestone for the university. It’s the opportunity to be part of shaping a bold new era of progress, discovery and promise for our city and our region.”
Consisting of two L-shaped structures, the building’s façade will be clad with a terra cotta rainscreen. A glass curtain wall system will bring daylight deep inside.
The interior will feature a six-story glass atrium that joins the dual structures.
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 another at the terminus of Allen Street.
This light-filled atrium “will be the focal point for bringing together clinical, basic sciences and educational uses fostering collaboration,” says Kenneth Drucker, design principal for the project and design director for HOK’s New York office.
A stairway will cascade down from south to north, and bridges will connect this public space to adjacent buildings. A second-floor bridge will provide coatless access to the planned John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the Conventus medical office building now under construction.
The building is designed to provide the most efficient layout for state-of-the-art medical education and research.
The layout is as follows:
The building’s lower floors will house medical school and community outreach programs, such as the UB mini-medical school and other public health initiatives.
Three floors will feature core research facilities and about 150,000 square feet of state-of-the art laboratories for faculty in the basic sciences.
“These labs represent an evolution of modular designs developed for UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center,” explains Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school.
“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 medical education facilities in the nation.
These include an expanded patient care simulation center, incorporating the Behling Simulation Center now located on UB’s South Campus, a surgical simulation center and a robotic surgery simulation center to train students and physicians in the latest remotely controlled surgery technologies.
The building’s top floor will house gross anatomy facilities.
Administrative offices and academic departments will be located on floors three through seven.
Creating an expanded, world-class medical school will bring 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students daily to downtown Buffalo.
“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,” notes Cain.
It also allows UB to hire world-class faculty, bringing to the community much-needed clinical services and medical training programs, he adds.
Already, Cain says, the prospect of bringing doctors, scientists, medical residents and students together and creating a metropolitan academic medical center in downtown Buffalo is attracting top clinical and scientific talent to Western New York.
Moving to the medical campus means that for the first time since the 1950s, UB faculty conducting scientific and translational research will be in close proximity to faculty performing clinical care in the hospitals, Cain notes.
“The design establishes a complete continuum from discovery to patient care on one campus and in modern facilities designed to efficiently maximize the medical school’s primary missions of education, clinical service and research.”
Relocating the medical school close to UB’s major teaching hospitals and research partners will help create an academic and health care powerhouse on par with academic health centers in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Cain adds.
These achievements will help realize the UB 2020 goal of transforming Buffalo Niagara into a major destination for innovative medical care and research.
In conjunction with UB’s master plan for a downtown campus, the project is intended to help create a vibrant urban mixed-use district seamlessly connected to the surrounding Allentown and Fruit Belt neighborhoods and other downtown communities.
“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,” says Drucker.
Intentionally, the building will not have its own cafeteria or dining facility.
“The design encourages people to go out into the community to purchase food and other items,” explains Laura Hubbard, UB’s vice president for finance and administration. "The university hopes this will provide a significant economic development benefit to the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Through the continuing design process, the HOK team will work closely with UB officials, the SUNY Construction Fund and community groups to develop the design best suited to the medical school while strengthening connections with the surrounding community.
Design work is expected to be completed this summer.
Encouraging public transportation, the new school will be constructed on top of a new Allen/Hospital Metro station. This innovative feature will accentuate community connections while promoting sustainable transportation options, helping the new school achieve LEED gold designation—a benchmark for high-performance green buildings.
A pedestrian passageway will extend through the building between Main and Washington streets, leading to Allen Street.
Further promoting alternative transportation modes, this passageway aligns with a proposed Allen Street pedestrian extension from Washington to Michigan streets, which will feature a bike share facility.
The $375 million medical school is funded in part by NYSUNY 2020 legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
But private donations will continue to be key to the project's success, notes Nancy H. Nielsen, MD ’76, PhD, senior associate dean for health policy at UB.
“The new medical school represents UB’s tangible commitment to excellence in medical care,” says Nielsen.
“Every person whose life is touched by those who are educated, work and do groundbreaking medical research within the medical school will benefit.”
Nielsen co-chairs UB Medical School’s Campaign Steering Committee with Jeremy M. Jacobs, chair of the UB Council, and Robert Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank.