Columbia University Medical Center Opens New Education Center - Healthcare Training and Education
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Columbia University Medical Center Opens New Education Center

Columbia University Medical Center opened its new, medical and graduate education building, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, for the start of the fall term. The Vagelos Education Center is a 100,000-square-foot, 14-story glass tower that incorporates technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces and a modern simulation center to reflect how medicine is taught, learned and practiced in the 21st century.

New York-based interdisciplinary design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect, designed the facility to reshape the look and feel of the Medical Center campus and to create spaces that facilitate the development of skills essential for modern medical practice.

The concrete and steel structure encompasses 100,000 square feet of advanced medical and scientific facilities. It is anchored by a network of social and study spaces distributed along an exposed, interconnected vertical staircase— known as the “Study Cascade” — that extends the height of the building. The alcove interiors of the Study Cascade, designed to be conducive to collaborative, team-based learning and teaching, open onto south-facing outdoor spaces and terraces. Other key elements of the design include:

  • Advanced clinical simulation center, a specialized space for mock examination rooms, clinics and operating rooms
  • Multi-purpose auditorium, a 275-seat flexible space used for campus-wide events such as lectures, screenings, and concerts
  • “Academic Neighborhoods,” groups of classrooms that can be configured according to need by operable partitions, drop-down screens and large-scale multi-user touch screens, suspended ceilings, and distributed power and data at the floor
  • Anatomy Quad, a flexible learning space with integrated screens and task lighting
  • Student Commons, which feature a café, computer work area and computer labs
  • Ground floor lobby and café, which adjoin a “study bar” with views of the Palisades

The building also integrates a range of sustainable features—including locally sourced materials, green roof technologies, an innovative mechanical system that minimizes energy and water use, and a façade featuring ceramic “frit” patterns that are baked onto the exterior glass to diffuse sunlight. All new construction and renovation projects at CUMC—including the Vagelos Education Center—work toward the goal of minimizing CUMC’s carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025.

“We are training the doctors who will deliver medical care, the scientists who will perform groundbreaking scientific research, and the teachers who will help train the future generation of physicians and scientists. It is important that their educational facilities are as exciting as medical science is today,” said Dr. Vagelos.

In addition to the new Vagelos Education Center, initiatives to revitalize the campus include increasing green space, creating a new gateway to the medical school, consolidating student services, renovating several existing buildings, and constructing new spaces, including the new home for the Columbia School of Nursing.

The building is named in recognition of the generosity of an initial lead gift from P. Roy Vagelos, MD, a distinguished alumnus of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and his wife, Diana Vagelos, an alumna of Barnard College and the Vice Chair of the Trustees of Barnard College. The Vagelos Education Center was funded through the generosity of many committed friends, faculty, and alumni donors.

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