Funds for renovating portions of the Health Professions Building, designing a building to replace Wherry Hall and relocating the Radiation Safety Building were approved by the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees today. A total of $37 million will be allocated for the projects, which will begin in the spring of 2015 on UC’s medical campus.
More than $27 million—with $8 million coming from state capital funding—will be used to renovate the nearly 100-year-old Health Professions Building (HPB). Half of the remaining $10 million will cover design costs for the building replacing Wherry Hall with the rest paying for the demolition of the current Radiation Safety Building and building a replacement, said University Architect Beth McGrew.
"The Health Professions Building is structurally in excellent shape and is one of the oldest Academic Health Center buildings,” McGrew noted. The 118,590-square-foot building was designed by famed Cincinnati architectural firm Samuel Hannaford & Sons, which also designed city landmarks such as City Hall, Music Hall, Cincinnati Observatory and the Van Wormer Library on UC’s east campus. It opened Feb. 25, 1918 as the new home of the Ohio-Miami Medical College, which at the time served as the medical department of the University of Cincinnati. Christian Holmes, MD, the school’s dean, raised $255,000 to construct the building.
Major systems within Wherry Hall, however, are in danger of imminent failure and its narrow footprint does not accommodate the needs of the colleges of Pharmacy or Allied Health Sciences, McGrew said. Wherry Hall was opened in 1959 as expanded laboratories for the College of Medicine.
McGrew said the first phase of the project will start next spring when colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine labs and offices from the five-story north wing of HPB move to the Medical Sciences Building (MSB). Renovations will begin in fall 2015 on the wing and on the building’s original first-floor auditorium, which for many years has been used as office space. The area will be restored to a large auditorium.
"The building renovations will further enhance our ability to train the next generation of pharmacists and pharmacy researchers,” Pharmacy Dean Neil MacKinnon, PhD, said. "The renovations include state-of-the-art classrooms, spaces to facilitate faculty-student interactions and a medication therapy management center where pharmacists and pharmacy students will improve patient outcomes and help patients to better manage their medications.”
"These renovations will assist in our efforts to attract the best faculty, students and staff and will enable us to join the country's top tier of pharmacy schools,” he added.
Renovations also will include new laboratories and replacement of the building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing systems. Electrical and lighting systems also will be upgraded and made energy efficient. All windows in the building will be replaced beginning this fall.
Construction on a new Radiation Safety Building will begin in fall 2015. It will be built on land now occupied by the north wing of the Kettering Laboratory Complex. That wing will be demolished as soon as abatement is complete, McGrew said.
Occupants of Wherry Hall and the south end of HPB will move to the renovated north wing of HPB in fall 2016. The new Radiation Safety Building also is expected to be occupied by this time. Wherry Hall then will be separated from the HPB during the winter of 2016-2017 and demolished along with the old Radiation Safety Building.
Construction on a new building totaling approximately 110,000 square feet to replace Wherry Hall (which totals 66,356 square feet) is scheduled to begin in summer 2017. McGrew said she expects construction costs for the new building to be between $46 million and $50 million.
In early 2018 College of Allied Health Sciences offices, classrooms and laboratories will relocate to the new building from the Hastings L. and William A. French Building, commonly known as French East.
"Our college has long outgrown the current space we have,” said Tina Whalen, EdD, interim dean of allied health sciences. "Given the growth in the number of students and programs the college has experienced over the past decade the consultant architects estimated our space needs at almost double what we have today.”
McGrew noted that both HPB and the new structure will include space that will be used by all four Academic Health Center (AHC) colleges.
"One of my favorite aspects of the project is the emphasis on interdisciplinary education,” MacKinnon said. "Once completed, our ability to educate our students in health care teams will be greatly strengthened. Our students will be better prepared to practice as pharmacists with teams of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.”
"With the four academic health center colleges’ commitment to interprofessional education, we all need large multipurpose classroom and learning laboratory spaces that foster the type of team-based learning experiences that are required to collaboratively train students for professional practice,” Whalen added. "The new building will accommodate these types of large room requirements as will the renovated HPB. In addition to providing a new home base for Allied Health Sciences, the new building will be highly utilized by all four AHC colleges as we continue to further develop our interprofessional education and practice student training model.”
Plans currently call for French East to be converted to a simulation center by summer 2019 for use by the four AHC colleges, McGrew said.
McGrew said the new building will not be called Wherry Hall, which is named for William Wherry, MD, a College of Medicine pathology faculty member from 1909 until his death in 1936. Wherry was an internationally known bacteriologist who discovered the cause of tularemia—a serious infectious disease often called rabbit fever—and a serum which treats it. He also provided proof that respiratory diseases are communicated through airborne sprays and for the use of skin tests to detect immune substances in the body.
The new structure will likely be detached from HPB, McGrew said. This would permit green space between the buildings adding to similar open space on the west and north sides of the CARE/Crawley Building.