HOK Selected for $375 Million Project at University of Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After winning a global design ideas competition, New York-based HOK Architects will design the new University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science on its downtown campus.

Located at the center of the region’s emerging biosciences corridor, this new, transit-oriented medical school development will anchor a lively, urban mixed-use district on campus and bring 1,200 students, faculty and staff downtown.

With the goal of fostering collaboration and interdisciplinary care, the new academic medical center is intended to allow students, faculty, biomedical researchers and clinicians to move easily from classroom to bedside to lab.

“Building a new medical school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our university and region, and a critical step in evolving the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus into an academic health center on par with those of Pittsburgh and Cleveland,” said Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Kenneth Drucker, design principal for the project and design director for HOK Architects’ New York office, said his team approached the medical school project after analyzing the scale and texture of the city and the history, quality and craft of Buffalo architecture.

The university “has world-class aspirations for the architecture, design and planning of the medical school and site,” he said. “The project presents an exciting opportunity to transform the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and make a bold statement for architecture and urban design in Buffalo. We are pleased to have been selected for such a meaningful project, which will prepare students for medical and research careers in an inspiring research-focused academic medical center.”

HOK Architects beat out Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Cannon Design, Rafael Vinoly Architects with Foit-Albert Associates, and Grimshaw and Davis Brody Bond.

The selection committee cited the company’s experience designing some of the world’s highest profile and most innovative health sciences facilities.

HOK Architects designed the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and recently won an international competition to design the Fondazione Ri.MED Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center in Palermo, Sicily. The firm also served as lead designer for the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center and the Francis Crick Institute’s cardiovascular and cancer research center in central London, which will be Europe’s largest center for biomedical research and innovation.

Other medical centers it has designed are in Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, Florida State University, the University of Alberta, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., the University of Central Florida, the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pa., as well as Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Bill Odell, HOK Architects’ director of science and technology, led many of those projects.

“The University at Buffalo has a tremendous opportunity to build state-of-the-art new facilities while redefining 21st-century medical education and translational research,” he said. “Most other academic medical centers in the world would love to have the opportunity that UB has on this site.”

The proposed $375 million medical school, funded in part by NYSUNY 2020 legislation, is a key component of the university’s 2020 plan for academic excellence, which is intended to benefit students, faculty, staff and the Western New York community.

“This new medical center will become a catalyst for further development in downtown Buffalo and Western New York, and support the convergence of technology and research that will transform the practice of medicine,” said Jim Berge, principal-in-charge for the project and HOK Architects’ director of science and technology in New York.

To meet the university’s sustainability and climate-impact reduction goals, HOK will design a sustainable building intended for LEED Gold certification. Groundbreaking for the medical school is scheduled for fall 2013 and construction is expected to be complete in 2016.