t was telling last month when both Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Arizona in Tucson issued "Pardon Our Dust" press releases as students returned to matriculate. Those two institutions are creating plenty of dust and economic activity with new building projects as they both reach record enrollment totals. Several of those projects are connected to strong missions in the life sciences. And many of them feature blending of disciplines, institutions and missions as a central tenet, including a project from one school that has opened in another's backyard.
The $135-million Health Sciences Education Building on the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus has now opened. The 265,000-sq.-ft. (24,619-sq.-m.) facility will be the training home for the sixth class of 80 medical students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix. It will also house the UA College of Pharmacy and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Northern Arizona University's College of Health and Human Services also will expand its physical therapy program that until now has only been offered at its home campus in Flagstaff. NAU also is starting a new physician's assistant program in the new building.
The facility was originally a partnership between UA and ASU, but two years ago ASU pulled out as it launched a separate plan to bring the Mayo Clinic's medical school to Phoenix. The Mayo Medical School – Arizona Campus, announced officially in September 2011 and expected to open in 2015, will offer both a medical degree granted by Mayo and a master's degree in the Science of Health Care Delivery through ASU.
Separately, in August this year, Mayo was granted approval by its board of trustees to construct a 217,200-sq.-ft. (20,178-sq.-m.) building on its Phoenix campus, a major expansion that will create a single-site, integrated Cancer Center. Project design and programming for the $130-million building is expected to take three years, with staged occupancy expected in 2015 as several divisions relocate from Scottsdale and consolidate in Phoenix. A separate proton beam therapy program is going into a new 100,000-sq.-ft. (9,290-sq.-m.) facility just east of Mayo Clinic Hospital, and is expected to open its first treatment rooms by 2016.
Mayo Clinic has had a base in Scottsdale since 1987. In its 25 years in the area, Mayo has grown from 47 physicians and 225 employees to 470 physicians and 5,000 employees. Its holdings now span the two campuses, comprising more than 400 acres (162 hectares). The clinic has added two research buildings on the Scottsdale campus and, on the Phoenix campus, a 244-bed hospital, a specialty clinic, housing for transplant and cancer patients and leased space for a child care center, a hospice and a hotel. Offsite family medicine practices were also added in Scottsdale and Glendale, Ariz.
Earth and Space
In September, ASU held a grand opening for its new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology IV (ISTB 4) research building. HDR Architecture, as Architect of Record, collaborated with the design architect, Ehrlich Architects, on the $110-million, seven-story laboratory research building. The largest single research facility on the campus at 298,000 sq. ft. (27,684 sq. m.) and home to the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) and to workspace of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, it houses 166 labs, including highly specialized labs for space and earth geological research, plus 60 faculty offices. Construction originally began in March 2010.
"ISTB 4 is an extraordinarily complex project that was built to support a wide variety of research initiatives in the biological and physical sciences and integrative engineering," said Kip Hodges, director and foundation professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration. "In addition, it must serve the needs of the School of Earth and Space Exploration as an academic headquarters and as a focal point for our public education efforts. HDR played a central role in planning a building that would accommodate and, more importantly, integrate all of these varied requirements. The result is an impressive facility that provides highly efficient, adaptable environments for long-term flexibility."
"HDR is proud to have partnered with ASU on the design of the largest and most interdisciplinary building on the Tempe campus," said Steve Riojas, national director of HDR's Science + Technology program. "We are excited to see how the collaborations between the various schools and departments connecting in ISTB 4 will lead to the breakthrough discoveries that will have a lasting impact."
But it's not the first interdisciplinary facility on campus. ASU is also home to the Biodesign Institute, which was established 10 years ago and which recently welcomed physician and research scientist Raymond DuBois as its executive director from his previous post at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"ASU's Biodesign Institute is a unique interdisciplinary research endeavor devoted to bio-inspired innovation – that is, using nature's building principles as a guideline for addressing a range of problems and challenges in health care, sustainability and security," explains a university release. "With 10 research centers in 350,000 square feet [32,515 sq. m.] of LEED certified laboratories, 700 employees and 208 active research projects, the Biodesign Institute is a nerve center for biomedical, sustainability and national security discovery."
"I have spent my professional career in academic medicine and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to head up Biodesign at ASU and venture into some very exciting areas that are crucial to the future of the planet," DuBois said in September upon his appointment.
A 'Tree House' in Tucson
In fiscal year 2011, the UA collected 220 grants for a total of more than $85 million from the National Institutes of Health, nearly double that of any other research organization in the state. Those figures ranked the UA first among research organizations in Arizona for NIH funding.
Several University of Arizona faculty members, companies with ties to the school and the chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents received awards from the Arizona BioIndustry Association this fall. Its colleges of medicine, agriculture and science, pharmacy and optical sciences continue to lead the way in R&D funding at the university. It has its own interdisciplinary mission, embodied in the university's BIO5 Institute. And the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park earlier this year welcomed a 400-job pharmacy-benefits customer service center from UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx.
Earlier this month, the long-simmering, 54-acre (22-hectare) University of Arizona Bioscience Park, which broke ground three years ago with the help of ARRA funds, was officially dedicated. The ceremony was presided over by dignitaries including UA President Ann Weaver Hart and Matthew Erskine, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The development, located less than three miles from the main UA campus, includes an adjacent 300-acre (121-hectare) retail and residential area known as The Bridges.
But another branch of the life sciences, dendrochronology, is about to move into its own new facility.
It's the study of tree rings, and it's undertaken by the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, or LTRR, which was formally established by the Arizona Board of Regents 75 years ago after the pioneering work accomplished by astronomer Andrew Ellicott Douglass, who studied the rings in the 1930s to see how sunspot activity correlated with past climates.
Long ensconced in space adjacent to and below Arizona Stadium, the LTRR will now move into a $12-million "tree house" designed by Richärd & Bauer Architecture, a firm owned by two alumni of the UA architecture program. The new facility will house about 22,000 sq. ft. (2,044 sq. m.) of labs, offices and a portion of the world's largest collection of ancient timbers, and be located atop the university's Mathematics East building.
As with interdisciplinary efforts elsewhere, public education is central to the LTRR's mission. Specimens from around the world will be on display at the new center, including a 10-foot cross section of a Giant Sequoia tree, wood from 4,000-year old bristlecone pines and timber from ancient Anasazi ruins.