BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After an international competition that focused
the expertise of four elite architectural teams on design
possibilities for a new University at Buffalo school of medicine in
downtown Buffalo, UB announced today the selection of the winning
HOK, one of the world's leading architectural firms, with a
global portfolio of health sciences facilities and academic
buildings and an international reputation for sustainable design,
has been selected to help produce the final design for the new UB
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara
"This is a very exciting outcome for our university and our
community as we move forward with this vital next phase in the UB
2020 vision of excellence," said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.
"The new downtown home for UB's medical school needs to be
extraordinary on many levels.
"This building will be a linchpin in our downtown campus, an
anchor in the Buffalo health sciences community and a hub for
excellence in medical research, education and patient care. And it
will be a prominent new feature in the skyline of a city known
worldwide for its architectural treasures. Responding to all these
needs is a tall order, but HOK has amply demonstrated that it has
all the right tools to rise to the challenge: innovative vision,
expertise in green design and in the planning of 21st century
health science facilities and a clear understanding of the unique
potential of our medical school and the communities it serves."
Robert G. Shibley, dean of the UB School of Architecture and
Planning and head of the selection committee, said four teams of
the world's top architects were selected from among 19 teams in
five countries that originally vied for the opportunity to design
"The teams selected each produced a design experiment that
taught us something about the architectural possibilities for the
building, from how it might meet the ground to the kinds of
learning environments and public spaces it could create," he
"Now we will build upon these experiments through a dialogue
with the medical school, the community and the stellar HOK team,
guided by perspectives from some of the world's best architectural
minds," Shibley said.
The announcement kicks off the next phase of the medical school
design process. This phase will include the public exhibition of
design ideas submitted by all four competing teams and
conversations with university and community stakeholders to inform
and guide creation of the final design for the school.
The four finalists represent an international shortlist of some
of today's most notable architects. In addition to HOK, they are
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Cannon Design, Rafael Vinoly
Architects with Foit-Albert Associates, and Grimshaw and Davis
An eight-person selection committee composed of design and
engineering professionals from the State University Construction
Fund and UB evaluated the teams based on a diverse set of criteria,
including depth of experience with similar facility types, project
team qualifications, project approach, design ideas, minority- and
women-owned business enterprise participation and references from
The proposed $375 million medical school, funded in part by
NYSUNY 2020 legislation, is a key component of the UB 2020 plan for
academic excellence, which is intended to benefit students,
faculty, staff and the Western New York community.
The new medical school will sit at the corner of High and Main
Streets, in the center of the region's emerging bio-sciences
corridor and a short walk from Buffalo General Medical Center,
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Hauptman Woodward Medical Research
Institute and the recently completed UB-Kaleida Health building,
which houses UB's Clinical and Translational Research Center and
the Gates Vascular Institute. The planned relocation of Women and
Children's Hospital of Buffalo could place that hospital across the
street from the medical school building.
"Building a new medical school is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity for our university and region, and a critical step in
evolving the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus into an academic health
center on par with those of Pittsburgh and Cleveland," said Michael
E. Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School
of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
"From the start," he said, "we have been committed to creating a
building that supports medical education for the 21st century and
enriches the people who will live, learn and work within and around
it. We look forward to working closely with HOK and community
members to create a final design for our world-class building for
UB's medical school."
Groundbreaking for the medical school is slated for fall 2013;
construction is anticipated to be completed in 2016. The medical
school's construction continues the physical transformation of UB's
three campuses. Beginning with the opening of the award-winning
William R. Greiner Residence Hall designed by Cannon Design last
August and continuing through this September, UB will have opened
four major new buildings across its three campuses. Included among
the list of projects is the Clinical and Translational Research
Center, built jointly with Kaleida Health's Gates Vascular
Institute, also designed by Cannon.
This translates to more than $321 million in construction -- 93
percent of this construction (more $300 million) was awarded to
local contractors. A similar ratio for construction spending is
expected for the medical school project. Extending the project's
local impacts are HOK's subcontracts with four Buffalo-based firms,
among them the award-winning Foit-Albert Associates, a woman-owned
Kenneth Drucker, design principal for the project and design
director for HOK's New York office, said his team approached the
medical school project "after a thorough analysis of the scale and
texture of the city and the history, quality and craft of Buffalo
"UB has world-class aspirations for the architecture, design and
planning of the medical school and site," he said. "The project
presents an exciting opportunity to transform the Buffalo Niagara
Medical Campus and make a bold statement for architecture and urban
design in Buffalo. We are pleased to have been selected for such a
meaningful project to prepare students for medical and research
careers in an inspiring research-focused academic medical
The medical school will be the largest new building to be built
in Buffalo in decades, and the project presents a complex and
important set of urban design challenges because of its location.
The building will serve as a gateway to downtown and the front door
of the university and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, with the
potential to offer a seamless connection to the surrounding
Allentown and Fruit Belt neighborhoods.
The site also includes a new Allen-Medical Campus Metro Station.
UB is finalizing an agreement with the Niagara Frontier
Transportation Authority to permit the station to be incorporated
into or built adjacent to the medical school building. In addition,
several historic buildings to the east must be thoughtfully
incorporated into the site plan. Finally, the university is looking
for a design that includes green space and pedestrian ways, such as
a linear park along Ellicott Street and a pedestrian passage
through the building from Allen Street, which will create a strong
sense of place for campus and community and physical connections
"This is a milestone in UB's master plan for its downtown
campus, which is to create a lively, urban, mixed-use district,
well-connected to the Allentown and Fruit Belt neighborhoods and
downtown communities," said Shibley, adding that the medical school
move will bring 1,200 students, faculty and staff downtown.
The four teams proposed a range of design responses to these
challenges, including positioning the medical school's "front door"
on different corners of the site, which is bounded by Main Street
on the west, High Street on the north, Washington Street on the
east and extends past Allen Street on the south. Some design
schemes used Washington Street as a drive-able access point, while
others used it as pedestrian-only. All of them extend Allen Street
eastward deep into the campus, creating grand promenades from Allen
Street to Ellicott Street.
HOK will begin to address the full range of design challenges
over the next several weeks through visioning and space programming
discussions with medical school leadership, faculty, staff and
students. Public input will also be sought on all four design
concepts submitted by the finalists, which will be on display for
the public at the Greatbatch Pavilion, 125 Jewett Pkwy., Buffalo,
through May 24, and then at the Buffalo and Erie County Central
Library, 1 Lafayette Sq., Buffalo, through June 8. Community
members are invited to submit their comments by sending an email to
Updated information on the design process will be available at http://www.buffalo.edu/ub2020/building_ub.
The design competition process used to select HOK was intensive.
In February, the four competing teams toured facilities and
participated in a workshop with university officials to discuss
project goals. They then had a month to prepare initial
illustrations of their work as part of their response to a formal
request for proposals. The design experiments were presented to
campus and community leaders in late March to further inform the
Competing teams were challenged to propose design solutions that
foster collaboration and interdisciplinary care and create
connections that allow students, faculty, biomedical researchers
and clinicians to move easily from classroom to bedside to lab. For
example, design ideas included sky-bridge connections from the
medical school to a Phase 2 building across Washington Street as
well as to a proposed medical office building and to the proposed
Women and Children's Hospital on High Street.
"This process was never intended to produce a winning design,
but to reveal how the architects were thinking about and
approaching the project," said Shibley, "and HOK rose to the top of
an impressive field, bringing an all-star team to the project, a
thoughtful and graceful approach, and recent experience designing
some of the highest profile and most innovative health sciences
facilities in the world."
HOK brings an impressive and deep portfolio in health sciences
complexes. The firm designed the acclaimed King Abdullah University
of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and recently won
the international competition to design the Fondazione Ri.MED
Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center in Palermo, Sicily.
HOK also served as the lead designer for the University of
Chicago's William Eckhardt Research Center and the Francis Crick
Institute's cardiovascular and cancer research center in central
London, which will be the largest center for biomedical research
and innovation in Europe.
HOK's experience includes designing medical centers for Ohio
State University in Columbus, Florida State University, the
University of Alberta, Washington University in St. Louis, the
University of Central Florida and The Commonwealth Medical College
in Scranton, Pennsylvania, as well as the Northwestern Memorial
Hospital in Chicago and the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center
in Los Angeles.
HOK's laboratory design principal for the UB project, Bill
Odell, oversaw many of these projects, and has earned international
praise for his architectural and laboratory designs for some of the
largest and most complex health sciences and medical research
facilities in the world. Several other members of the HOK team also
played lead roles on these recent projects as design principals,
laboratory designers and medical education planners.
Because of UB's sustainability and climate-impact reduction
goals, HOK's green design credentials influenced its selection: UB
has set a goal of LEED Gold for the new medical school building.
HOK, Shibley noted, has been repeatedly ranked the "top green
design firm" by Engineering News-Record, while KAUST was certified
in 2009 as the world's largest LEED Platinum project. Two of HOK's
principals for the UB project -- Odell and Drucker -- are widely
recognized for their leadership in this area, and Odell is one of
the founding members of the U.S. Green Building Council.