UB unveils dramatic design for new downtown medical school

Rendering of the design for the new UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The design for the new UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences features two L-shaped structures joined by a glass atrium to bring natural illumination into the building.

Release Date: April 10, 2013 This content is archived.

“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 just that. ”
UB President Satish K. Tripathi
Rendering of the new UB medical school, street view.


UB unveiled the dramatic design for its new medical school to be constructed on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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 eight-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 Street.

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 decades.

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 region.

“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 just that.”

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 training programs.”

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 research.”

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 Cain.

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 communities.

“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 community outreach

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 layout here.

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 basic sciences.

“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 surgery technologies.

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 seven.

The building will not have its own cafeteria or dining facility.

“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.”

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