The Cornell Board of Trustees voted Jan. 22 to authorize construction of Weill Cornell Medical College's (WCMC) new Medical Research Building, which is expected to permit the medical college to expand its critical role in research, to attract and retain the best scientists, and to provide students with richer educational opportunities.
"We at Weill Cornell are extremely gratified by the vote of confidence by the university board of trustees," said Antonio Gotto, dean of WCMC. "I firmly believe this research building will have a transforming effect on the Medical College. This vote will give the college and our donors the confidence to complete our aggressive fundraising campaign of $1.3 billion."
Joanne DeStefano, vice president for financial affairs, added: "With over $360 million of philanthropy raised by the medical college to date during these difficult economic times, it's a testament to the support for investment in medical research at Cornell."
The 18-story, 476,000-square-foot building, to be built at E. 69th St. between York and First Avenues, is designed to become the "epicenter of experimental research" at the college, said Stephen M. Cohen, associate provost and executive vice dean at WCMC.
"This is going to be the first large-scale research building that the medical college ever has built itself," Cohen said. The building, which will include 13 floors of laboratory space plus teaching and conference facilities, will foster long-term, collaborative projects aimed at translating research into advances in patient care.
"The medical research building will provide an opportunity for enhanced collaboration between the two Cornell campuses," said Provost Kent Fuchs.
The building's initial cost of $650 million and any subsequent expenses will be fully funded by WCMC through donations to the medical school and debt financing. Excavation and foundation work began in July; the building's target completion date is July 2013.
The trustees voted on the project on the recommendation of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers and the Executive and Buildings and Properties committees. Student-elected trustee Asa Craig '11 said the vote to approve the building was an easy one.
"After listening to all the presentations and reports that have been done by the staff at the medical college, the Board of Overseers and also by a special task force, all the units seem to be in agreement ... this is a project that needs to be done," Craig said.
"I'm very confident that this will be a wonderful opportunity for us as a university to really be at the forefront of research," he added.