The dedication of Uncas A. Whitaker Hall for Biomedical Engineering Oct. 20 was a major step forward in a plan begun more than a decade ago to launch a nationally prominent department in this rapidly growing field.
It also crystallizes the ongoing collaboration of researchers in the University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science and the School of Medicine, which started more than 40 years ago.
Photo by Joe Angeles
Unveiling a portrait of Uncas A. Whitaker at the Oct. 20 dedication of Uncas A. Whitaker Hall for Biomedical Engineering are (from left) William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees; David W. Kemper, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees; G. Burtt Holmes, chair of The Whitaker Foundation; and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.
“The schools of engineering and medicine have experienced a great tradition of working together in this dynamic field, and it is a privilege to dedicate this facility to teaching and research in biomedical engineering,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “We are greatly indebted to The Whitaker Foundation and to the Danforth Foundation for their significant support in providing the lead gifts for this building.”
Wrighton also expressed his gratitude for the many additional supporters of Whitaker Hall.
Participants in the ceremony included University Trustee Stephen F. Brauer, chairman and chief executive officer of Hunter Engineering and former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, who delivered the keynote address; G. Burtt Holmes, O.D., chairman of the board of The Whitaker Foundation; and Y.C. Fung, Ph.D., professor emeritus of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, widely known as the “father of biomechanics.”
Whitaker Hall sits at the northeast corner of the Hilltop Campus. Construction began in June 2001 and was completed in December 2002 at a cost of $41 million. Classes have been held in the building since this spring.
The Whitaker Foundation gave Washington University $10 million for the building. It is named after Uncas A. Whitaker, an inventor, engineer and philanthropist who encouraged and supported collaborative medical research involving engineers, scientists and physicians.
Photo by Joe Angeles
Known as the “father of biomechanics,” Y.C. Fung, Ph.D. (left), is greeted by William A. Peck, M.D. (right), the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and former dean of the School of Medicine, and Frank C.P. Yin, M.D., Ph.D., chair and the Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Professor of Biomedical Engineering.
The Danforth Foundation’s support of Whitaker Hall was part of the lead gift to the Campaign for Washington University in 1997. At the time of the gift’s announcement, Wrighton noted that one of the major needs this core campaign gift would address would be the support of biology and biomedical sciences.
Christopher I. Byrnes, Ph.D., the Edward H. and Florence G. Skinner Professor of Systems Science and Mathematics and dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, oversaw the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s creation and development, along with William A. Peck, M.D., the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and former dean of the School of Medicine.
“Jim McKelvey, former dean of engineering and now senior professor of chemical engineering, helped pioneer the early cooperation between engineering and medicine,” Byrnes said.
“Washington University now operates one of the best biomedical engineering departments in the country. With the support of Larry Shapiro, dean of the School of Medicine, this department will continue to make great advances and will have a significant impact on enhancing the region’s scientific base.”
Frank C.P. Yin, M.D., Ph.D., chair and the Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Professor of Biomedical Engineering, heads a dynamic department just 6 years old yet already flourishing. With 10 full-time faculty and more than 270 undergraduates and nearly 70 graduate students — including 50 at the doctoral level — biomedical engineering is one of the most popular fields of study at the University.
Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, a Boston firm specializing in buildings for the fields of education and medicine, was the architect for this three-story, 55,000-net-square-foot structure. The design emphasizes interactive spaces and allows flexibility in the research laboratories. McCarthy Building Cos. provided construction management services.
Whitaker Hall’s features include a 250-person auditorium, a 2,000 square-foot, three-story atrium, 22,000 square feet of wet and dry laboratory space for research and teaching, a nanofabrication room, a library and a landscaped courtyard on the building’s south side.
The building also contains student and faculty lounges, several classrooms and five faculty office “pods.” Each pod contains offices, a conference room and a support staff area.
“We in the biomedical engineering department are delighted to have this wonderful facility that enables us to work with our many students and collaborators and provide them with the best resources available in an ideal working environment,” Yin said.
“Uncas A. Whitaker Hall for Biomedical Engineering is named for a remarkable man. We hope that the work we do here honors him, and we anticipate that many discoveries and breakthroughs will occur in this building in the future.”