The University of Minnesota Board of Regents this week will consider a $122 million plan to rehab and reconfigure the U’s East Bank Academic Health Center facilities, highlighted by the construction of a new, 142,000-square-foot classroom building to serve as the “front door” of the medical school.
 
The Regents will vote on Friday to approve the schematics and implementation details of the ambitious effort, which is largely dependent on funding from this year’s state capital bonding bill. School officials say the effort is designed to “enhance the state’s reputation for innovative research and education focused on educating and training the state’s health professional workforce.”
 
One element of the plan is a $13.5 million Academic Health Center “renovation and relocation” program under which the research and educational activities now housed in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Cancer Research Center and the Masonic Memorial Building will be moved to 40,000 square feet of remodeled locales within the Phillips-Wangensteen Building, the Moos Tower and the 717 Delaware Building. That portion already has funding in place from University-sponsored debt.
 
Those moves are necessary because the VFW and Masonic buildings, located adjacent to each other on Harvard and Delaware Streets S.E., are to be demolished to make way for the project’s centerpiece: the new Health Sciences Education Center.
 
Designed by the Perkins + Will architecture firm, University medical school leaders say the “HSEC” would become the new “front door” of the med school. Educationally, it is aimed at supporting new national accreditation and curriculum standards that emphasize team-based care, which is the direction the marketplace is heading as providers seek to reduce costs and become more efficient in the delivery of health care.
 
The new building would include active-learning classrooms, simulation centers, small group rooms, a tech-heavy health sciences library and learning commons, and spaces for student services and amenities. It would be physically connected to the next-door Phillip-Wagensteen Building, which itself would see some 52,000 square feet of existing space renovated in conjunction with the construction of the new building.
 
Together, the tab for the new HSEC and the Phillips-Wagensteen remodeling has been set at $108 million, with $66.7 million to come from a proposed 2017 state of Minnesota capital bonding bill. The money was originally included in last year’s bonding measure, which was never passed as the Legislature adjourned without reaching a borrowing agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton.
 
The U is proposing to provide $33.3 million of the total with its own debt proceeds. 

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