University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
Official UB news and information for the media

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo Move to Downtown Campus

Frequently Asked Questions

Revised 9/16/2015. Published February 27, 2015

The University at Buffalo’s new medical school is the largest medical education building under construction in the U.S., according to data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

Expected to open in 2017, the eight-story, 628,000 square-foot facility is also the largest project being constructed in Western New York. 

Why is UB building a medical school in downtown Buffalo?

The new building will help the university create a world-class medical school, recruit outstanding researchers and clinicians, and transform the region into a major destination for innovative medical care and research — all objectives critical to the UB 2020 strategic plan.

UB’s new medical school was the first project to receive NYSUNY Challenge Grant funding through NYSUNY 2020, a piece of legislation that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in 2011.  

A new medical school will:

  • Improve medical education in the region. Many of the buildings that house UB’s medical school are more than 60 years old. New 21st-century facilities will create state-of-the-art learning and research environments, making UB more attractive to prospective students and faculty.
  • Expand the number of physicians UB trains. The new building will allow UB to expand the size of each medical school class from 140 to 180, addressing the statewide and nationwide physician shortages.
  • Improve patient care. One out of four UB medical school graduates stays and practices in Western New York. Therefore, enrollment growth in UB’s medical school will increase the number of physicians in the region, bringing much-needed clinical services and offering innovative treatments for patients. 
  • Recruit new faculty who will advance medical research. A new medical school is helping UB recruit more than 100 talented physician-scientists and medical specialists to Western New York. UB faculty will pioneer new medical treatments and technologies and help advance medical care worldwide.
  • Serve as an anchor in creating the region’s first comprehensive academic health center (AHC). Across the country, academic health centers combine superior medical education, clinical care and research to provide premium care to patients in the nation’s largest cities. Buffalo’s AHC will leverage the resources of UB’s medical school and its partners, including Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute —to provide world-class care and educate the next generation of physicians. 
  • Transform Western New York into a destination for medical care and research. A new medical school populated by talented physicians and medical students will bring 2,000 more people to downtown Buffalo each day. New research and treatments generated by UB medical faculty will help transform Buffalo into a major health care destination, on par with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, attracting patients from all over the Northeast.  
  • Strengthen Western New York’s economy. Moving the medical school downtown will strengthen the biomedical sector as a catalyst for the region’s economic transformation. New medical innovations are expected to spin off businesses and create jobs as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus continues to grow. The move also builds on UB’s many successful research investments in biomedicine downtown, including UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, Clinical and Translational Research Center, Institute for Healthcare Informatics and Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics.

When will the new medical school be completed?

Groundbreaking took place in October 2013, and construction is well underway. The school is scheduled to open in 2017. 

Where is the medical school being constructed?

The eight-story, 628,000 square-foot building is being built at the corner of Main and High streets on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The new building brings the UB medical school back to its historic roots; the school was located on High Street from 1893 until 1953, when it moved to its current location on UB’s South Campus.

What are the milestones in land acquisition, design and construction of the new medical school?

  • Design. In April 2013, the university publicly unveiled the medical school’s dramatic design, produced by HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. The HOK team worked closely with UB officials, the SUNY Construction Fund and community groups to develop a design that met the needs of the medical school while strengthening connections with the surrounding community. 
  • Acquisitions. To make way for construction of the new medical school, the university acquired the following parcels of land:
    • First Niagara gave to UB a 0.85-acre parcel of land at 973 Main St., appraised at approximately $2 million. The First Niagara parcel completed the university’s land acquisition for the site. To replace the First Niagara branch currently located on the site, First Niagara will open a new bank branch on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In the meantime, a temporary branch will be located at 1031 Main St., a property UB purchased for $1.4 million. 
    • UB purchased the 0.26 acre (approximately 11,325 square feet) parcel of land at 960 Washington St. and the parking lot of the Roosevelt Apartments from Roosevelt Housing Associates at 911 Main St. for $1.2 million. This parcel extends behind the Allen Street Metro Rail station.  Arrangements to accommodate all 32 parking spaces available in the Roosevelt lot were part of the acquisition. 
  • Construction. In March 2014, the $52.5 million contract for phase 1 of construction was awarded to LPCiminelli, the lowest bidder. Phase 1 involved excavation, support of excavation, foundations and structural steel, including complete frame-up. The $226 million contract for phase 2 — the largest by far of three construction phases — was awarded in October 2014 to LPCiminelli, the lowest bidder. Work began in the spring of 2015 and will include construction of the building’s façade and roof; completion of all plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems; and completion of all interior finishes. 

A tower crane 280 feet in height will be erected in the summer of 2015. Phase 2 work is expected to continue until the completion of the building in 2017. 

How is UB’s new medical school identified at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus?

On Wednesday, July 1, 10’x3’ and 7’x3’ wrap banners featuring the future look of the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo building as well as messaging were installed at the construction site.  As patients, doctors, staff, students, neighbors and other members of Buffalo’s downtown community approach the BNMC and construction site, they will see these bold message banners identifying the site as the future home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo. The banners, designed by UB’s Office of University Communications bear a full-color rendering of the new building and were fabricated and installed by Ace Flag Company. The banners have been placed at several locations on the perimeter of the site on Main and High streets.

What do the banners say?

The banners contain the following messaging:

  • Your Future Physician Will Train Here
  • Top Medical Students Will Be Educated Here
  • Medical Discoveries Will Be Made Here

What do you mean when you say “Your Future Physician Will Train Here"?

A key factor in the decision to move the medical school downtown was the ability to expand the number of physicians UB educates.  The new building will allow the school to increase the size of each class from 140 to 180, addressing the local and national physician shortages.  

What do you mean when you say “Top Medical Students Will Be Educated Here"?

One of UB’s goals is to attract the most promising individuals and support their development.  UB’s medical students are continuously recognized for excellence in achievement and a state of the art medical education building will help UB continue to recruit top students. Most UB medical students are New York State residents, many of whom may choose to practice in the state or the region, potentially alleviating the regional shortage of physicians.

What do you mean when you say “Medical Discoveries Will Be Made Here”?

At UB, we’re making discoveries that can transform lives. UB is at the forefront of a new era of medicine—training the next generation of experts, providing advanced care and pioneering new medical therapies. A new medical school is also helping UB recruit more than 100 talented physician-scientists and medical specialists to Western New York. UB faculty will pioneer new medical treatments and technologies and help advance medical care worldwide. For example, UB medical faculty are pioneering new medical advances in the treatment of stroke, heart disease and neurological diseases while also creating new tools in emerging fields like genomics and bioinformatics.

What was the cost of the banners?

The cost of these banners was $1,315 including production, finishing and installation and paid for using non-state funds allotted for UB’s communications and marketing efforts.  Also included at the construction site is a UB flag affixed to the crawler crane which cost $110, also part of UB’s communications and marketing efforts.

What will the new medical school look like?

An advance look at the new medical school is available below. This video fly-through was developed by HOK, the global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm that designed the building.

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. It includes connecting bridges to adjacent buildings and a stairway that cascades down from south to north.

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, which will help the building achieve its targeted 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.

Does the community have a voice in this project?

Yes. UB has held public forums to seek input on the selection of the architect and on possible design directions. The university continues to engage with community members and community leaders regarding the project.

UB has formed a Community Advisory Group to provide a forum for dialog with neighbors, businesses, residents and other stakeholders, including representatives from the immediately affected surrounding communities and adjacent neighboring buildings. The feedback provided during this outreach has been very beneficial to the design process.

How will neighborhoods close to the new school benefit?

Once open, the school will bring 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown Buffalo daily, which will increase population density in the heart of the city while providing economic development opportunities, such as increased demand for retail and housing development, business incubators and research parks. In the long run, this influx of people is expected to create new retailing, vendor and service opportunities for companies and businesspeople in the communities bordering the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

How will the project benefit local companies, especially minority- and women-owned (MWBE) businesses?

The medical school project will provide better access to construction, vending and purchasing opportunities created by UB’s expansion on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. For example, UB has set ambitious goals for the participation of minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) for the medical school project. According to the State University Construction Fund, LPCiminelli has approved Utilization Plans for the two UB medical school project contracts with 24.7 percent and 20.2 percent MWBE participation respectively.

How much will moving the medical school cost?

It will cost $375 million to build the new medical school. The sources of funds are:

State Capital Appropriations $35 million
Existing UB Capital Appropriations $50 million *
Fundraising $50 million
SMBS Reserves $25 million
Bond Financing $215 million
Total $375 million

* Funds previously planned for deferred maintenance work in Cary, Farber, and Sherman.

What role will private philanthropy play in funding the project?

Of the $375 million it will cost to build the medical school, $50 million is to be raised from private sources — gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations.

The medical school has organized a fundraising steering committee, chaired by Jeremy Jacobs, chairman and chief executive of Delaware North Companies Inc. and chair of the UB Council; Nancy Nielsen, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for health policy in the UB medical school; and Robert Wilmers, chairman and chief executive officer of M&T Bank. The committee will raise funds for this building, and many other medical school initiatives, including endowments, research funds and scholarships.

What is the plan for UB’s other two campuses, North and South?

Moving the medical school downtown strengthens all three of UB's campuses, enabling UB to make the most of each one’s resources and locations.

Under UB’s Physical Plan, the master plan that guides the development of the university’s facilities, the North Campus will remain a hub for academic and social life, while the South Campus will take on a new role as a center for professional education.

What will happen to the UB South Campus?

UB remains committed to the South Campus, where the medical school is now located, and that commitment is not changing.

After 2017, when the medical school moves downtown, UB will develop a plan that will ultimately result in moving UB’s professional schools from the North Campus to the South Campus.

The plan for the South Campus is to reinforce historic quadrangles, remove temporary buildings, recover grand lawns from parking and revitalize landscapes. Wayfinding and access to campus will be improved, with new facilities for transit patrons and bicycle commuters, a simplified campus loop road, an improved Bailey Avenue entrance and better connections to the neighborhood.