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10 April 2018

HOK Design of University at Buffalo’s New Medical School Wins Excelsior Award for Public Architecture

Aerial view of the medical school building in downtown Buffalo. Photographer: Douglas Levere

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences opened last December and will be honored later this month at an AIA New York State awards reception.

The Excelsior Awards recognize state-funded building design in New York that serves as a model of excellence for future projects. The $375 million, 628,000-sq.-ft. Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was the first state project to receive NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant funding through legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011.

The building returns the medical school to downtown Buffalo and allows the Jacobs School to expand its class size by 25 percent and recruit and retain world-class faculty. The new Jacobs School promotes collaborative interactions among faculty and students though its classrooms and open spaces called “learning landscapes.” Its seven-story, light-filled atrium, comprising more than 19,000 feet of glass, fosters collegiality and a strong sense of community. Other design highlights include:

  • A 32-foot tall, two-story light tower at the Main and High streets entrance that functions as the building’s signature feature, a beacon, often lit in UB blue.
  • A high-performance terra-cotta rain screen and a glass curtain wall system that brings daylight deep inside the LEED Gold targeted building.
  • The incorporation of the NFTA Allen Street transit hub on the building’s ground floor.

Students explore the Jacobs School’s central atrium on the building’s opening day. Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

“Our design reflects the renewed optimism of the city,” said Kenneth Drucker, FAIA, design principal for HOK, which won an international competition to design the building.  “The building’s exterior relates to the character of Buffalo and the Allentown neighborhood while creating a new interdisciplinary medical learning environment.”

The 2018 AIANYS Excelsior Awards for Public Architecture and Associated General Contractors New York State Jeffrey J. Zogg Building Awards Reception takes place April 30 in Albany.

Related: Join HOK’s David Schwartz on a Video Tour of the University at Buffalo’s New Medical School