UB breaks ground in downtown medical campus
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 23:10
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo believes it is “irrefutable” that Buffalo has changed over the past five years.
But he likes what he sees.
“You can see it on people’s faces – [Buffalo] is not what it was; it is what it could be,” he said. “With this leadership and with this energy, there is no stopping what Buffalo can do.”
On Tuesday, Cuomo joined members of the UB, Buffalo and New York State communities at the corner of Main and High Streets in downtown Buffalo to celebrate the university breaking ground on its new downtown medical campus.
The project costs $375 million and is funded primarily by an NYSUNY Challenge Grant, which Cuomo provided when he signed the NYSUNY 2020 legislation in 2011. New York State Senators George Maziarz, Mark Grisanti and Tim Kennedy said the effort to pass NYSUNY 2020 legislation was bipartisan.
The medical campus, which is scheduled to open in the 2016 fall semester, is part of President Satish Tripathi’s UB 2020 plan “to pursue research addressing critical societal needs, provide students with transformative educational experiences and further engage with local and global communities,” according to a UB news release.
“This puts the medical school in the heart of our expanding downtown campus, the center of the region’s bioscience corridor and just a short walk away from the hospitals and life science research partners,” Tripathi said. “Moving the school downtown connects us more closely to all our surrounding communities. It also connects our distinguished past with our bright future.”
Architecture firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) designed the building on Main and High Streets. The facility is projected to be eight stories tall and encompass approximately 540,000 square feet. The project is also the largest individual construction plan in UB’s history.
The new building is strategically located in the heart of the downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which will give students easy access to hospitals and many other health care facilities.
In his State of the University Address on Friday, Tripathi said increasing UB’s recognition on a global stage and strengthening the school’s research prowess are crucial goals of UB 2020.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz believes the medical campus is a positive movement in this direction, calling the project “the next big step in one of Western New York’s greatest success stories.”
“[UB], through its partnership with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, is setting the standard for leading medical research in transforming the region into a hub for not only biomedical and scientific fields but an international center for excellence,” said Poloncarz, a UB alumnus.
UB will hire 100 new medical faculty members for the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the average graduating class will increase from 140 students to 180.
Apart from bettering UB’s future, the medical campus will have a number of effects on the area. Mayor Byron Brown said the addition of the new campus is expected to have a positive impact on the local economy. He said the campus will attract people from all across the country and educate people from all across the globe.
“It is certainly now no secret that the governor has placed incredible focus on Buffalo and Western New York,” said Brown, who compared the new medical campus to others that have revitalized cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland. “We have an incredible asset in the form of a world-class research university and a world-class medical school. UB and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are the foundation of Buffalo’s growing life sciences economy.”
Thirty-one years ago Tuesday, Lackawanna Steel Company closed, causing 6,000 people in Western New York to lose their jobs. Cuomo said this was the moment “that crystallized a point of decline for Buffalo and Western New York.”
Cuomo stressed his passion to change the direction of Buffalo’s future to a more positive one. He wants to change the negative culture in Buffalo and sees the medical campus as a step toward Buffalo’s success.
“We wanted to say to Buffalo, ‘I understand the cynicism; I understand the pessimism. I know you believe you’ve been forgotten,’” Cuomo said. “But I am saying it is a different day.”