BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo publicly
unveiled today the dramatic design for its new School of Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences building to be constructed on the Buffalo
Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.
VIDEO available here: http://youtu.be/MwZ8UtstmYs
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
The building’s façade will be clad with a
high-performance terra cotta rainscreen and a glass curtain wall
system that will bring daylight deep into the building.
At more than half a million gross square feet, the steel-framed
building will be one of the largest constructed in Buffalo in
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.
“What’s on the horizon is more than a new era for
our medical school and a major new milestone for the
university,” said Satish K. Tripathi, UB president.
“It’s the opportunity to be part of shaping a bold new
era of progress, discovery and promise for our city and our
“Today, we get our first exciting glimpse at what that
future will look like. A medical school with such a profound impact
needs a truly world-class design, and HOK has clearly delivered
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.
“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
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.
“This new design establishes a complete continuum from
discovery to patient care on one campus and in modern facilities
expressly designed to efficiently maximize the medical
school’s primary missions of education, clinical service and
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
Construction of the new medical school also represents a
milestone in the university’s master planning for a UB
Downtown Campus, which is intended to help create a vibrant, urban,
mixed-use district seamlessly connected to the surrounding
Allentown and Fruit Belt neighborhoods and other downtown
“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.
Design incorporates modular research labs and space for
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.
Robert Shibley, dean of the UB School of Architecture and
Planning, discusses the new medical school’s design and
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
“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
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
The building will not have its own cafeteria or dining
“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.”
Funding provided by state and private donors
The $375 million medical school is funded in part by NYSUNY 2020
legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Nancy H.
Nielsen, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for health policy at UB and
a member of the UB Medical School’s Campaign Steering
Committee, noted that private donations will be key to the success
of the new medical school.
“This is so much more than a new and wonderful building
downtown,” said Nielsen, who co-chairs the campaign steering
committee with Jeremy M. Jacobs, chair of the UB Council, and
Robert Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank. “The new
medical school represents UB's tangible commitment to excellence in
medical care. Every person whose life is touched by those who are
educated, work and do groundbreaking medical research within the
medical school will benefit.
“At this critical moment, we invite our supporters to
continue partnering with us in our pursuit of academic excellence,
a pursuit that for the medical school begins with these design
plans,” she added. “Together, we can grow the new
knowledge economy that our region needs.”