Photo credit: Dane Goodwin

The U’s School of Medicine may soon be demolished to make room for a new facility.

The U hopes to build a new medical building, and Vivian Lee, dean of U Health Care, will lobby the Utah Legislature in pursuit of funds on Feb. 8. The Master Education and Discovery Building, intended to replace the existing School of Medicine, would serve as the focal point for the medical campus redevelopment.

The building, along with a proposed Ambulatory Care Complex and Rehabilitation Hospital, will require a budget of approximately $185 million for construction. The U will ask the Legislature for $50 million.

The U’s Campus Master Plan first brought up the desire to replace the School of Medicine in 2008. By 2013, university leaders sought to transform the U’s Health Sciences Center Campus into zones intended to fulfill three needs: research, academic operations and clinical operations.

The new building is proposed to have a sustainable utility infrastructure and “promote interdisciplinary learning between all health care programs,” according to a project description from the 2014 Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management.

Renovation of the current School of Medicine, constructed in 1965, was considered but deemed implausible due to seismic issues.

“The current School of Medicine is an outdated building,” said Shireen Ghorbani, spokesperson for U Facilities Management. “The new plan will ultimately reduce the overall square footage of the [building].”

The existing building occupies 650,000 gross square feet and “the challenge of replacing [it] is daunting due to the building’s size … and the complexity of the site,” the project description stated. Because the three proposed projects will be built on or around the lot occupied by the current School of Medicine, the new building will occupy less space than its predecessor — approximately 200,000 to 250,000 gross square feet total.

Once completed, the facility will serve to integrate the work of students, researchers and clinicians into one space and improve collaboration. It is intended to serve the U for the next century and lead a nationwide transformation of university health systems and facilities.

“We want to help encourage innovation and collaboration across campus with a focus on inter-professional training and the development of new technologies that can impact health on a local and global scale,” said Kathy Wilets, U Health Care spokesperson, in an emailed statement.

Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management are overseeing the project. If the Legislature approves funding, the facility will likely be completed by 2020.

“This presents an opportunity for us as we consider a new building,” Willets said, “because as health care changes, how we teach and train future providers is also changing.”

s.legg@dailyutahchronicle.com

@sarahnlegg

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