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Official UB news and information for the media

Medical School’s Relocation to Downtown Buffalo

Frequently Asked Questions

Published April 10, 2013

Why is UB building a new home in downtown Buffalo for its medical school?

The new medical school will help the university achieve objectives critical to the UB 2020 strategic plan: creation of a world-class medical school; recruitment of outstanding scientists, physician-scientists and clinicians to the university; and transformation of the region into a major destination for innovative medical care and research.

A new medical school will:

  • Improve medical education in the region. The current UB medical school is more than 60 years old. New 21st century facilities will create state-of-the-art learning and research environments making it more attractive to prospective students and faculty.
  • Improve patient care.  A new medical school will enable UB to grow enrollment in its medical school, which will increase the number of physicians who graduate from UB and who then practice in Western New York.  This will bring to the region much-needed clinical services offering innovative treatments for patients. 
  • Advance medical research.  A new medical school is helping UB recruit more than 125 talented physician-scientists and medical specialists to the region.  UB faculty will pioneer new medical treatments and technologies and help advance medical care worldwide.
  • Increase UB’s economic impact.   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 to Buffalo.  This medical innovation is also expected to spin off businesses and create more than 3,000 jobs as the medical campus continues to grow.

When will the new medical school be built?

Ground breaking for the new medical school is slated for fall 2013, with the school scheduled to open in early 2017.

The 500,000-square-foot building will be located at the corner of Main and High streets on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, adjacent to the new Conventus medical office building and the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, both under construction.  The new medical school will also be nearby UB’s new Clinical and Translational Research Center at 875 Ellicott St., located above the new Gates Vascular Institute.

What are the most recent steps that UB has taken to construct the medical school?

In April, the university publicly unveiled the dramatic design for the medical school.   The design was produced by HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. 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 continuing and is expected to be completed in the next few months.

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 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 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.

To make way for construction of the new medical school, the university purchased four parcels of land.  In November, UB purchased the 0.26 acre (approximately 11,325 square feet) parcel of land at 960 Washington St.  UB also has a signed letter of intent to buy the parking lot of the Roosevelt Apartments at 911 Main St. for $1.2 million. This parcel extends behind the Allen Street Metro Rail station.  The seller is Roosevelt Housing Associates.  Arrangements for alternative parking are part of the acquisition of the property.  This arrangement will accommodate all 32 of the parking spaces currently available in the Roosevelt lot.

In March, 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 in May for $1.4 million.

Does the community have a voice in this project?

Yes. UB has held several public forums to get input on the selection of the architect and on possible design directions. The university will continue to engage with community members and community leaders regarding this important 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 adjacent communities benefit from construction of UB’s new medical school in downtown Buffalo?

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 hiring minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) for the medical school project.  The university expects to achieve 15 percent MWBE participation in design contract work.  UB also expects to achieve 20 percent minority business enterprise (MBE) participation and 10 percent WBE (women business enterprise) participation in construction management contracts.

The relocation of UB’s medical school will bring more than 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown each day.  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 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.

How is UB raising funds for the project?

The UB medical school will be paid for with several funding sources; private philanthropy is one of them. $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, Nancy Nielsen and Bob Wilmers, to raise funds for this building, the CTRC and many other medical school initiatives.

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

This strategy strengthens all three of UB's campuses. We have a campus master plan to guide us. The plans are optimal for all three campuses, and make the most of each one’s resources and locations.

What will happen to the UB South Campus?

UB remains committed to the South Campus, and that commitment is not changing. After 2017, when the medical school moves downtown, the plan is to move UB’s professional schools from the North Campus to the South Campus. The plan for the South Campus is to reinforce historic quadrangles, remove unsightly temporary buildings, recover grand lawns from parking and revitalize landscapes. Access to campus and way-finding 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.