Tower crane marks milestone in constructing new UB medical school building

A 250-foot-high tower crane is flying the UB flag at the site of the university's future medical school building, which is under construction in downtown Buffalo.

Release Date: July 31, 2015

Matt Hillman and Paul Hopkins carry the UB flag that will be attached to the tower crane.

Paul Hopkins fixes the UB flag to the tower crane, where it will fly above the construction site at UB's new medical school building.

“This is such a high-profile job. It’s historic. This corner was dead three years ago. Now we’re constructing one of the biggest buildings in Buffalo here. It’s exciting.”
Joe Oliverio, project engineer, LPCiminilli; 2013 civil engineering graduate, UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The arrival last week of the 250-foot tower crane at Main and High streets in downtown Buffalo marks a new milestone in constructing the future home of the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Downloadable images and video of the UB flag being placed atop the crane are available at and, respectively.

From now through year’s end, the crane, with the 264-foot horizontal working arm or boom on it, will be spinning through the sky, putting steel beams in place for floors four through eight of the new medical school.

“The tower crane’s commanding presence at the construction site is a symbol of the very positive changes that UB’s new medical school building will bring to Buffalo’s skyline,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and medical school dean.

By Labor Day, the 4th and 5th floors of the 8-story structure will start to go up, according to William J. Mahoney, vice president for LPCiminelli, general contractor for the new medical school. “After that, there will be less and less construction visible,” he said. By the end of the year, much of the structure will be enclosed and work will continue on the interior.

Earlier this week, on one of the summer’s hottest days, Paul Hopkins of Contour Steel, who helps operate the crane for LPCiminelli, climbed the 250-foot-high tower in order to affix the UB flag to one end of the crane’s working arm or “boom.”

“The view is amazing,” said Hopkins, who, together with the crane operator, has been spending 10 hours a day atop the crane, either in the air-conditioned cab portion or outside on the boom itself doing maintenance or inspection work. Asked if crane operators need to love heights in order to do the job, Hopkins quips: “You can’t hate ‘em!”

Operating the crane requires specialized licensing and constant safety training and monitoring as well as vigilance about weather and wind conditions since tower cranes cannot be operated when winds exceed 30 miles per hour.

Tower cranes, which allow for the construction of tall buildings, are an unmistakable sign of progress in Buffalo.

“They’re the only things that can get the steel high enough,” said Joe Oliverio, project engineer with LPCiminelli and a 2013 civil engineering graduate of the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The crane is the second one in the two block stretch along High Street, the other one is at the site of the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The cranes are a welcome sight on the medical campus, says Jennifer A. Kuhn, project manager for the new medical school, who notes there have been decades when there were no tower cranes downtown.

“They’re a symbol of urban improvement,” said Mahoney, adding that the progress is being felt in multiple sectors. “We’ve got a lot of good local construction talent from the local building trades working on this project,” he said. On any typical day, more than 90 men and women are working at the site, all of whom are well aware of the importance of the UB medical school project and the adjacent construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“This is such a high-profile job,” said Oliverio of the medical school project, “it’s historic. This corner was dead three years ago. Now we’re constructing one of the biggest buildings in Buffalo here. It’s exciting.”

Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is beginning a new chapter in its history with the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. The eight-story, 628,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017. The new location puts superior medical education, clinical care and pioneering research in close proximity, anchoring Buffalo’s evolving comprehensive academic health center in a vibrant downtown setting.  These new facilities will better enable the school to advance health and wellness across the life span for the people of New York and the world through research, clinical care and the education of tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences. The school’s faculty and residents provide care for the community’s diverse populations through strong clinical partnerships and the school’s practice plan, UBMD.


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