UA breaks ground on $136M research facility at biomedical campus in downtown Phoenix










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Oct 16, 2014, 10:05am MST UPDATED: Oct 16, 2014, 5:30pm MST

Angela Gonzales Senior Reporter-Phoenix Business Journal

University of Arizona is breaking ground today on a $136 million research building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix, creating more than 800 jobs in the process.

Construction and design of the 10-story, 245,000-square-foot structure is expected to create 500 jobs.

The project is north of the Health Sciences Education Building near the northwest corner of Seventh and Van Buren streets.

The same team that designed and built that education building is working on this project as well: CO Architects and Ayers Saint Gross on the architect team and DPR and Sundt Construction on the build team.

It will take about 26 months to complete the project. At build-out, the structure will create 360 permanent jobs.

This is the fourth major construction project on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in seven years. The UA Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s is set to open next year.

Plans call for pursuing expanded partnerships with industry and multi-disciplinary collaborations with UA’s partners in the new building, said Dr. Stuart Flynn, dean of UA College of Medicine-Phoenix.

He said the trend is moving toward industry partnerships, rather than academia acting alone.

“What that does when you start doing it well is then you spin off industry startups and become an attractive place for others to move into,” Flynn said. “It fuels itself. But you’ve got to get the energy and the momentum going for people to do it.”

The building will house wet lab space as well as dry lab space, including computational space, Flynn said. It won’t have classroom space like the educational structure recently built next door.

“There may be rooms where people can meet for conferences and the like, and it could be used for classrooms, but there won’t be intentional classroom space – at least right now,” Flynn said.

Dr. Robert Arceci, who is on the UA faculty and also is director of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said this project shows UA’s commitment to biomedical research.

“I would look at it as an opportunity to expand the scientific cultural infrastructure and opportunity to potentially develop transdisciplinary science, hopefully,” Arceci said.

Transdisciplinary science is the concept of defining a problem and then bringing scientists from different backgrounds to help solve the problem at every level, he said.

“Science should be egalitarian,” he said. “I think we can all help each other solve the problems. There are big problems to solve.”

He said he is not sure if he will have any lab space in the new building; he hasn’t seen the plans yet.

“What I’ve been told is it will be a research laboratory-based building with core facilities scattered throughout,” Arceci said. “It sounds like it would be a relatively standard approach to biomedical laboratories and core facilities.”

While Phoenix officials support this project and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, they also are behind efforts to create a biosciences campus in north Phoenix, in conjunction withArizona State University and Mayo Clinic Arizona.

That project, when completed, could create upwards of 30,000 life sciences jobs, said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

Angela Gonzales covers health, biotech and education.




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