Published April 10, 2013
The University at Buffalo’s new downtown medical school is designed to foster interaction among researchers, clinicians and students, plans unveiled April 10 demonstrate.
The 520,000-gross-square-foot building features interconnected spaces for laboratories, education facilities and collaboration.
The design sandwiches three research floors between more public medical education spaces on the lower floors and specialized, pedagogical components, such as the human anatomy suite, on the upper floors, explains Kenneth Drucker, design principal for the project and design director for HOK’s New York office.
A common atrium and second-floor “piano nobile”—or principal level—fosters collaboration among educators, researchers and the greater Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus community.
An enclosed bridge across High Street will physically connect this main level of the medical school to the overall campus, where faculty, researchers and students will have clinical responsibilities.
The school also will provide convenient learning, researching and credentialing opportunities for medical practitioners from across the campus, thus creating a comprehensive academic medical community.
While the new building is modern, it acknowledges the city’s architectural history, notes Robert G. Shibley, dean of the UB School of Architecture and Planning and head of the committee that selected HOK to design the medical school.
“Our goal was to find expression for a new medical school that is comfortable with some of the historical circumstances that surround it and that is typical of sites across Buffalo where new and old work well together.”
The school's open, interior space reflects other large buildings in Buffalo, such as the Ellicott Square and Market Arcade buildings.
“Just like these buildings, the new medical school will appear to take up a whole city block,” he says. Its open interior will invite social engagement and bring natural light inside, increasing the utility of space in the building’s core.
In addition, the new building will further develop an active, vibrant community through its integration of the NFTA’s Allen Street transit hub.
“This is the transit-oriented development that the state-of-the-art in city building calls for,” Shibley says.
“Anytime you can place a high-density workforce at the intersection of a high-capacity transit system, live anywhere along the corridor, create a mixed-use family of activities at the street level and find a way to go to work and go home without your car, you have successful transit-oriented development.”
Locating the Metro station in UB’s new medical school building provides a front door to both the medical campus and Buffalo’s growing downtown, notes Shibley.
“The school's design vertically marks the junction,” he says, “marking one’s arrival at the same time in Allentown, on the medical campus and downtown.”
The convenient mass transit option will serve not only students, faculty and employees, but also patients, families and visitors to the entire campus, further strengthening Buffalo’s NFTA-Metro system, Shibley points out.
“This new development will presumably increase efficiency while increasing ridership—without increasing demand for capacity in the overall system,” he explains.
“We had room for more riders, and the new medical school will give us more.”