BJC Institute of Health at Washington University is on schedule to open in December ’09

The future of medicine is taking shape at the heart of Washington University Medical Center.

Construction crews have framed the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University in 8,210 tons of steel beams. They are on schedule with the 11-story, 700,000-square-foot building, despite a year of record-setting rain.

A crane lifts one of the final beams of the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University at a Dec. 11, 2008, topping-out ceremony.

The School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital plan to open the BJC Institute of Health, located at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Children’s Place, in December 2009. The $235 million building will be the hub for BioMed 21, the University’s initiative to speed scientific discovery and apply breakthroughs to patient care rapidly. It also will house Barnes-Jewish Hospital support operations, potentially dietary services, clinical laboratories and pharmacies.

Steel “topping out” is a key milestone. The building is only one year from opening and benefitting future patients through the discoveries that will be cultivated in five Interdisciplinary Research Centers.

“We are building the foundation that will aid us in accelerating the promise of BioMed 21,” said Larry Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The potential for new treatments and cures that can result from the enhanced scientific collaboration is extraordinary.”

BJC HealthCare has supported construction of the Institute with a $30 million gift over five years.

“The framework to support lifesaving research is complete,” said Steven Lipstein, BJC president and CEO. “The BJC Institute of Health represents hope and opportunity for countless patients for generations to come.”

Interior work on the BJC Institute of Health should start by March. A spacious, two-story lobby with a glass entryway will lead into the building. A staircase with built-in seating space will connect the lobby with upper walkways.

Floors one through five will be left as flexible shell space for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to develop in the future. Floors seven through 10 will provide space for the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology and Immunology, as well as five Interdisciplinary Research Centers. The centers will be focused on cancer genomics, diabetic cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, women’s infectious disease research and membrane excitability disorders.

The building’s layout will facilitate teamwork and interaction. Shared conference rooms and breakout areas will encourage brainstorming and dialogue. The labs are designed to be open, with no walls in between. They also will have flexibility built in, including casework (cabinets) and equipment that can be moved easily, in order to accommodate technology and change.

The BJC Institute of Health is striving for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, awarded to buildings that demonstrate environmental responsibility. A scenic plaza will front the building continuing efforts to make Euclid a relaxing area for Medical Center staff and physicians, as well as the general community.