‘It’s been amazing’: new Gonzaga-UW health sciences building nearing completion in spring

Progress can be seen by crossing the Hamilton Street Bridge towards Gonzaga University.

The new medical education, health sciences and innovation building for Gonzaga and the University of Washington Faculty of Medicine is taking shape at the corner of North Hamilton and East Spokane Falls Boulevard.

Construction on the four-story, 86,733-square-foot building is expected to be completed in May, said Jake Closson, vice president of Bouten Construction. The facility was announced in September 2019 and opened a year later.

To date, the project is on schedule and on budget, Closson said. The estimated cost of the building is $ 60 million, according to the universities.

Bouten Construction is the general contractor for the project, while the building was designed by architectural firm CollinsWoerman. Emerald Initiative, the Seattle-based development subsidiary of McKinstry Co., owns the facility, with Gonzaga and UW signing long-term leases.

Although some workers had to self-isolate at times due to COVID-19, Closson said there had been no stoppages or delays of COVID-19. Construction of the facility is expected to continue through the winter months.

The first three floors are for UW and Gonzaga. More than 650 students are expected to use the facility, according to the universities:

• 120 first and second year students at UW School of Medicine Foundations Phase

• 30-35 MEDEX Nord-Ouest medical assistant students

• 225 students from Gonzaga’s human physiology program

• Over 300 undergraduate nursing and health science students

The fourth floor will eventually be redeveloped for an outside tenant. This tenant has not yet been chosen; the developers hope to find a business entity aligned with the life sciences to potentially foster student interaction.

To facilitate construction, Closson said contractors have implemented virtual design and prefabrication processes to assemble many components of the facility, including all mechanical systems, off-site. The result has reduced the time and labor required for installation.

“We want to do that with every project,” Closson said. “It’s something that is still being perfected. There are always new ways to do prefabrication. We have several projects where we use prefab at different levels, and this one, I would say, was at a higher level of most work right now.

The property’s main entrance faces East Spokane Falls Boulevard. The hall on the first floor will have something of a common space; Jennifer West, a spokesperson for the UW School of Medicine, said the developers were in talks with potential vendors to sell coffee and other coffee dishes.

The first floor will also house the building’s 2,601 square foot anatomy lab.

A 25-space parking area built into the building itself was designed for expansion, Closson said.

“The idea is that it could be built for a future space if needed, or it could stay as a garage,” he said. “There is a lot of flexibility here.

Classrooms for UW and Gonzaga students will be located on the second and third floors.

Gonzaga has five classrooms and seven laboratories, while UW has seven classrooms and five laboratories. Administrators will be able to use sub-dividers in classroom spaces as needed.

David Thorp, chairman of Gonzaga’s human physiology department, said the facility was designed and built “with the users in mind.”

From the start, architects have been in touch and “really patient” with college administrators about the design elements, Thorp said. A few weeks ago, for example, Thorp said administrators had visited the facilities to make sure the outlets were in their place.

Currently, Gonzaga’s Department of Human Physiology conducts research and teaches in the same space, which creates scheduling conflicts. That will change with the new facility, as the teaching labs will be separate from the biomechanics lab, two cellular molecular physiology labs, and an environmental chamber, Thorp said.

Having a dedicated search space “is a big deal for us,” he said.

“The sophistication of the labs we’ll have here is night and day compared to what we have now,” Thorp said. “It was incredible. It has been such an iterative process and they have been very patient with us every step of the way and really open to making changes. … It came out exactly like the plans on paper.

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