In the works… Research Building

A preliminary outline of the new research building planned for the Health Sciences Campus was presented to faculty by Cannon Design on Monday, Sept. 23. The $72 million construction plan will be introduced to the Academic Affairs Committee on Friday, Sept. 27 as well as the Board of Trustees on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Tom Harvath, associate principal for Cannon Design, and Kent Turner, managing principal for Cannon Design, led the presentation while Robert Webster, Ph.D., associate provost for research administration, served as the meeting’s moderator.

Since the last meeting about the facility, held in May, the design group has surveyed existing facilities, developed space programs for new and renovated space, explored site options and developed cost projections.

According to Harvath, of the 232,000 net square feet of space currently used by the School of Medicine, 77,000 net square feet of that is owned by Tenet or SSM Health Care, 93,000 net square feet should be retained, and 62,000 net square feet is sub-standard for the function it currently holds.

Current space allows for 130 principal investigator teams. The new building will accommodate 30 more teams. The average area per PI team is 1,220 net square feet, meaning the required amount of space would be 253,000 net square feet.

The building will be designed based on these space needs, as well as the highest functionability possible, including such factors as access, parking, security and landscaping.

The finished product, according to this plan, will have a total of 266,420 gross square feet. The Grand Avenue site was chosen among the other five possibilities as the best option due to its visibility, connection to parking and the School of Medicine and Saint Louis University Hospital and the fact that it goes along with the University’s plan to create a recognizable border.

The pitfall to this site, according to Harvath, is an old, large, 175-foot-deep quarry directly in the center of the site. The quarry was filled with shaky material, but it cannot be built over. Instead, initial drawings plan for two four-story buildings on each side of the quarry with a connecting breezeway.

The cost range, just for construction, is at least $50 million for the new building, as well as somewhere between $16 and $20 million for renovations.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the University to move positively forward to meet the president’s (University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J.) goal of being the finest Catholic university in the United States,” Webster said.

“Father (Biondi) has indicated that a research building is a priority for the University,” said Bridget Fletcher, assistant to the president.

Optimistically, Harvath said, the project would be finished by the beginning of 2005. A minimum of eight months would be required for design and at least 20 months would be needed to build it. However, the University plans to overlap these time periods, speeding up the process.

Interested and concerned faculty had the opportunity after the presentation to ask questions. Such issues as safety in the area, space and funding for the project were brought up.

The Cannon representatives assured the attendees that there would be enough space for meetings, labs and offices. Webster addressed the issue of cost, explaining that it would be met through gifts, bonds and federal funding.

“A separate finance committee is reviewing the proposed building’s costs and the most plausible means of obtaining whatever funding will be required to construct the facility,” Webster said. “The committee will make recommendations to the president.”

Webster also explained that the faculty are pleased with current plans. “Generally, the comments have been positive,” he said. “Many faculty have expressed their appreciation to be involved in the planning process.”

The next steps are to have the basic program and concept approved, develop a financial plan and authorize schematic design and engineering to proceed, Harvath said.

Webster hopes to hold a third meeting by the end of the year.