UB breaks ground for new medical school.
Published October 15, 2013
The University at Buffalo has broken ground on its new state-of-the-art medical school at Main and High streets in downtown Buffalo, set to open in fall 2016.
During a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 15, representatives of the university; public officials, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo; and community members hailed the project as a milestone in UB’s history and in the city’s efforts to reinvent itself as a destination for world-class health care.
“Moving the medical school downtown will help us realize our vision of excellence by advancing patient care, creating new medical discoveries, providing a world-class medical education and helping revitalize downtown Buffalo,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.
The eight-story, 540,000-square-foot building, a key component of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, will soon emerge on its approximately two-acre site.
Designed by HOK, the new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will feature a terra-cotta and rainscreen façade and a light-filled, seven-story glass atrium joining two L-shaped structures.
In addition to state-of-the-art research laboratories and classrooms, the building will house advanced simulation centers for training in general patient care, surgery and robotic surgery.
Sky bridges will connect the building to nearby hospitals and health care facilities.
These physical connections will underscore the powerful programmatic connections in clinical education, patient care and research that will be tremendously strengthened by locating the medical school on the medical campus.
“Moving the medical school close to our hospital and research partners allows UB to foster — for the first time — a comprehensive academic health center, creating a health care destination on par with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis.”
In its new home, the medical school plans to continue an expansion already underway, aimed at improving health care in Western New York and beyond.
“The prospect of putting doctors, scientists, medical residents and students together in a metropolitan academic medical center is already attracting additional top clinical and scientific talent to Western New York,” said Cain.
In the past five years, UB has hired 24 new department chairs and senior-level appointees, “many of whom have come to Buffalo from around the nation and the globe, excited by the opportunity to create a world-class medical school and medical campus,” he noted.
“Many of these new hires are helping to fill some of the region’s gaps in health care, providing patients access to additional clinical specialties, allowing them to receive the care they need right here,” Cain added.
This influx of talent also will produce new research leading to advances in medical treatments and technologies, and create opportunities to grow the region’s emerging biomedical industry.
Altogether, UB will hire 100 new medical faculty.
In addition, each incoming medical school class will grow from 140 to 180 students.
“Already, more of our best and brightest students are choosing to stay in town to study medicine and launch their careers,” Cain said. “They will strengthen our region’s primary care in fields like family medicine, general internal medicine and pediatrics.”
Second-year UB medical student William Stendardi, president of the UB Polity student government organization, predicts that the school, along with the city’s rebirth, will make students want to stay in the area.
“I came to Buffalo (as an undergradute student) with little direction, still searching for a purpose and meaning, and UB and Buffalo gave me that,” he said.
“I knew I would get a great medical education here and I didn’t want to give four years of my life to any other city or university.
“This is where I belong, I owe you, and I am honored to stand here right now, representing the student body at this groundbreaking.”
Stendardi said the new school will greatly enhance the learning experience by offering multiple, routine opportunities for interaction with patients, faculty members and health care professionals outside of the classroom.
“Interaction with patients will increase exponentially,” he said. “We will walk out of class and be able to observe various fields of medicine.”
“We also will be able to meet new physician-mentors on a daily basis earlier in our training.”
As the school brings an estimated 2,000 students, faculty and staff to downtown Buffalo, many of them will arrive through a new Allen/Medical Campus Metro station to be built under the building.
This will make the school and medical campus easily accessible to the public. It also will promote sustainable transportation options, helping the building achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold designation — a benchmark for high-performance green buildings.
Surrounding neighborhood businesses also are expected to benefit from the influx of people. Community organizations, including the Allentown Association and the Fruit Belt neighborhood’s Orchard Community Initiative, will continue to provide significant feedback and input on the project.
The $375 million medical school is being realized with both public and private support.
It is the first project to receive a NYSUNY Challenge Grant through the NYSUNY 2020 act signed by Gov. Cuomo.
As Tripathi noted, the project would not be possible without the generosity of the university’s many partners, including First Niagara, which donated a .85-acre parcel of land.
A cornerstone of UB’s strategic plan, “the new medical school embodies all the core elements of the UB 2020 vision,” said Tripathi.
The plan emphasizes research to address critical societal needs, transformative educational experiences for students and further engagement with local and global communities.
Bids will be solicited later in 2013 for this largest individual construction project in UB’s 167-year history, which will be managed by Gilbane LiRo Ventures.
The State University Construction Fund and UB have achieved 15 percent minority-owned and 15 percent women-owned business participation for the design phase and 20 percent minority-owned and 10 percent women-owned business participation for the construction management phase.
For the construction phase, the fund and UB will develop goals for minority- and women-owned business participation, with assistance from a minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) outreach consultant, as it has for all of UB’s major building projects in the recent past.
This consultant, retained by the fund, will help UB develop bid packages that help maximize MWBE participation, and then monitor and report on that participation after contracts have been awarded.
The university is strongly committed to MWBE participation in all of its construction projects. This focus on MWBE participation also is a key goal of New York State and Gov. Cuomo.