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Addition to UVa's medical center announced

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Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:57 pm

The University of Virginia will build a new 30,000 square foot, $25-million medical center building along Lee Street, school officials told the Board of Visitors on Wednesday.

In a presentation to the board’s Building and Grounds Committee, university officials outlined plans for the structure, which will be called the Education Resource Center and also will house an outpatient pharmacy and imaging center.

“It is one of those projects that is a key element of our site plan,” said R. Edward Howell, vice president and CEO of the UVa Medical Center.

Medical center officials had planned a more modest project, but the inclusion of the pharmacy and especially the imaging center drove the cost up dramatically, officials told the board.

The imaging center will require excavating a space below ground and shielding for MRI machines.

Shifting the imaging center will provide space needed for a renovation of the hospital’s emergency department, said Vice President for Management and Budget Colette Sheehy, while the pharmacy will be much more accessible in its new location.

The pharmacy is currently housed in the “New University Hospital,” which was new in 1952, Howell said.

Officials estimated the building costs for the new center at $24.65 million to $25.86 million. Almost all of the cost will be financed with debt. Operations and maintenance will cost $900,000 a year. No start date has yet been set for the work.

Rector Helen E. Dragas asked how many university-issued prescriptions the outpatient pharmacy currently fills.

It’s a low number, Howell said, but officials hope putting the pharmacy in an accessible and central place will give it a significant boost.

The building will fill what is essentially the only remaining gap along Lee Street. An electrical substation had stood on the spot, but was relocated as renovations in the area, which has seen a number of projects in recent years, commenced.

It will sit across from the front entrance of the hospital, with the railroad tracks at the rear, and the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center and a parking garage to its sides.

The structure will feature curved façades and included an enclosed walkway over the street from the hospital lobby to the parking garage. It is planned to fit into the overall design of the area, University Architect David J. Neuman said.

The hospital's Lee Street entry has been a $30.3 million project, featuring a "lozenge-shaped" traffic pattern with curved pull-offs on either side and curved façades with lots of glass. A curved bridge over the street continues the pattern across the street.

The project is one of the final pieces of a massive spate of renovation and construction at the medical center.

The $141.6 million Battle Building at the UVa Children's Hospital is expected to be completed in April of 2014. Relocating the hospital's helicopter landing pad cost $6.7 million. A hospital bed expansion, now essentially complete, cost $80.2 million.  Internal renovations cost many millions more, and the $74 million Couric Cancer Center opened in 2011.

The project will next come to the board in May, when they will review the schematics for the new building.

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