By Rachel Leber
TAMPA, Fla. — Construction on the University of South Florida (USF) Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa is currently underway. The groundbreaking took place on Sept. 20, and the building is projected for completion by fall 2019.
HOK, with offices in Tampa, is the design architect and planner of the medical education and research program. The local office of Skanska is the design-builder of the project. The current construction budget for the 13-story, 394,000-square-foot building is $156 million.
The Morsani College of Medicine will create a new downtown Tampa campus for the University of South Florida and establish the school’s presence on the city’s skyline, according to Tom Thomas, senior vice president at HOK. “The building will serve as an anchor for a new 53-acre, multi-use development to create a more walkable and sustainable environment for downtown residents, workers, students and visitors,” said Thomas.
The Morsani College of Medicine will be located close to Tampa General Hospital — USF’s primary teaching hospital.To attract top-tier students and cardiovascular researchers, the university challenged the design team to create a signature, urban facility for its new medical school and heart institute, according to Thomas. Subtle, faceted gestures make up the facade and reveal specific moments of public gathering space such as the main lobby, cafeteria, library and pre-function areas. Atria spaces give volumetric relief along the western and southern edges while enhancing internal connectivity and providing direct, unobstructed views to the plaza and surrounding Tampa Bay.
“A rigorous design process resulted in the creation of a prismatic element both in form and effect,” said Thomas. “Much like a prism refracts light, the building form refracts from the ground to the sky to accommodate and express a diverse mixture of programmatic elements.”
The facility will offer an advanced educational environment to prepare doctors that includes a 400-seat flexible auditorium, classrooms of various sizes, casual and group study spaces and an experiential learning lab that provides multiple stations for interactive, interdisciplinary training.
Establishing a truly collaborative and interactive academic and research center in a high-rise building presented a challenge, according to Thomas. “Balancing the program functions and technical requirements into a floor plate area of a 13-story building was tested by a number of building schemes and options for making the spaces relate to one another.”
As a way of mitigating the challenge, the large, multi-story atria were created to internally weave together the different programs according to Thomas.
The new building will also house the Heart Institute, which will place cardiovascular researchers and clinicians with the medical students. “By uniting bench scientists and clinical researchers under one roof in the Heart Institute, the facility is designed to help more quickly translate discoveries into practical personalized treatments to improve the lives of those with cardiovascular disease,” said Thomas.
The new USF medical school will be a key anchor for the Water Street Tampa, a significant real estate redevelopment that is establishing a WELL-certified district. As the first building in this community, the USF Morsani College of Medicine is designed to achieve LEED Silver and WELL certification.
“Medical knowledge is expected to double every 73 days by the year 2020, which greatly affects the way we need to train tomorrow’s doctors,” said Charles Lockwood MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine in a statement. “The Florida Blue Knowledge Exchange will become central resource in helping our students learn how to navigate these emerging discoveries to serve their future patients.”