West Campus plan provides visionary growth opportunity

Two-decade construction strategy approved


By Lori Stahl

Today’s UT Southwestern Medical Center bears little resemblance to the tiny medical college launched in temporary Army barracks almost 75 years ago. Starting with 17 faculty members and 200 students, the medical center was in makeshift quarters until state legislators approved funds to construct a permanent home in 1951, next to the new site for Parkland Memorial Hospital on Harry Hines Boulevard.

The first building on the new site is now just one of the many buildings that comprise UT Southwestern’s South Campus. Over the years, as the medical school expanded to keep pace with growth in both research and education, it became necessary to move beyond the South Campus, and new construction became centered primarily on what became known as the North Campus.

And now, after the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital opens in November 2014, the focal point of activity will be shifting to what will increasingly become known as the West Campus, the area long dominated by St. Paul University Hospital.

The West Campus Master Plan, which was developed last year by UT Southwestern leaders and external consultants, will be implemented in several phases over the next 20 years. And a key first step to this implementation will be the demolition in 2015 of the current St. Paul University Hospital, which was built in the early 1960s and has been owned by UT Southwestern since 2005.

The feasibility studies conducted prior to the planning of the new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital determined that the limitations of the St. Paul facility indicated that a replacement hospital was needed for UT Southwestern to achieve its aspirations of providing patient care in a state-of-the art facility.

The West Campus Master Plan represents much more than a construction schedule for building five new buildings over the next two decades. It reflects UT Southwestern’s strategic goals as an academic medical center, committed to remaining at the forefront of biomedical research, medical education, and patient care, as well as a need to position the UT Southwestern clinical enterprise for success in a rapidly changing health care landscape.

Toward that end, the comprehensive West Campus Master Plan comprises 1.1 million square feet of new space; a high-tech Simulation Center for training students, residents, fellows, and faculty; and expansion of outpatient facilities. It also includes construction of a new thermal energy plant and more than 5,000 new parking spaces.

The West Campus redesign will allow a significant number of outpatient services to be consolidated, which will make it easier for patients, whose experience will also be improved by the plans for increased parking.

Phase 1 of the Master Plan, for which planning will begin this year, was approved by the UT System Board of Regents in November 2013 and is expected to take about four years to complete.

It calls for construction of an 11-story building that will add 275,000 square feet of space. Approximately half will be used for academic and educational space, with the remainder for expansion of UT Southwestern Health System ambulatory clinics. Phase 1 will also include construction of the new thermal energy plant and a garage with 1,600 parking spaces to improve faculty, visitor, and patient access.

“This plan will allow UT Southwestern to not only grow, but also to align resources in a way that will capitalize on the important synergies that exist among our research, education, and clinical care missions,’’ said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.

The West Campus Master Plan represents an important opportunity for UT Southwestern growth and renewal. The new facilities will be a significant draw in attracting and retaining the very best faculty, and they will also allow UT Southwestern to provide optimum and innovative training for students, residents, and fellows as they move into new roles as the next generation of physicians serving the communities around them, Dr. Podolsky said.

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