Next fall, students at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center will have the use of 67,000 square feet of additional classroom, lecture and laboratory space, thanks to a new building that has completed the first phase of construction.
Friday afternoon, Paul B. Roth, MD, UNM’s Chancellor for Health Sciences, and Rob Doughty III, chair of the UNM Board of Regents, were joined by university officials and other guests for a topping-out ceremony in which a final steel beam was hoisted into place.
“We are extremely grateful to the Governor, the Legislature, the Board of Regents – and most importantly, the taxpayers – for making this project possible,” said Roth, who noted that the new building, the third phase of a complex that was been under development since the late 1990s, will cost about $27 million.
The three-story structure will be joined by a sky bridge to adjacent buildings in the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education. The health education complex replaced five decrepit Quonset huts at the corner of Stanford and Marble NE that dated back to the founding of the UNM School of Medicine in 1964.
About 50 people donned hard hats and orange reflective vests for the ceremony, which included a chance to sign the white-painted steel I-beam before it was placed atop the structure.
“This building represents our past and our future,” said Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, the Health Sciences Center’s executive vice chancellor. It will allow for interprofessional education that brings together students in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and population health, as well as simulation labs where students practice performing procedures on animated manikins.
The project, which has created more than 320 construction jobs, is supported by a Bernalillo County general obligation bond, internal Health Sciences Center funding, state general fund money and revenue from state severance taxes.
The energy-saving design includes windows with electrochromatic glazing that automatically darken or lighten based on sun exposure, reducing the energy needed to heat and cool the building. It will also include solar panels to further reduce energy use.
“The investment we are making today in educational infrastructure will be repaid many times over in the future,” Roth said.