Board grants key approvals for UIC’s new health care, engineering buildings

Two capital improvement projects planned for the University of Illinois at Chicago campus received key approvals from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees today.

The board voted to approve all construction-related activity for UI Health’s new 200,000-square-foot Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building, which will be located at the southeast corner of Wood and Taylor streets. This includes approval for the university to enter into the agreements necessary to finalize the public-private partnership that will provide the majority of financing for the new $194 million building.

The board also approved a $117.8 budget for the Computer Design Research and Learning Center, a 125,000-square-foot mixed-use space for UIC’s College of Engineering. The building will be designed to meet LEED Gold certification standards for environmental sustainability and will be located at 900 W. Taylor St., adjacent to Memorial Grove.

“UIC’s students, staff and faculty are among Chicago’s most driven and innovative leaders and they need and deserve world-class facilities,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. “These new buildings are an investment in our and Chicago’s future. They will enhance significantly our teaching, research and clinical operations and will allow UIC to advance, grow and flourish.”

Rendering of the proposed UI Health Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building
Rendering of the proposed UI Health Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building (Image: Shive Hattery/ZGF)

Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics

The Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building will include six floors of patient care space, including eight operating and eight procedure rooms, 48 pre- and post-surgery bays, clinic space for GI, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, transplant and urology clinics, and a pharmacy.

“UI Health brings together seven health sciences colleges and a significant portfolio of bench to community research with a world-class, public clinical care delivery system,” said Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UIC. “This building will serve as a new hub for our top-ranked ophthalmology and transplant programs, and we are looking forward to bringing this new, comfortable space to our patients.”

Under the public-private partnership between UIC and Provident Resources Group, a 501(c)(3) corporation, Provident will finance nearly three-quarters of the cost of the building through tax-exempt bonds and lease the facility to UI Health during the 30-year term of the bonds. Additional funding will come from the health system and private philanthropy. In November 2019, Bruno and Sallie Pasquinelli pledged $10 million for the project.

“UI Health continues to see 5% annual growth in outpatient surgeries across many surgical services lines and the new building will also provide the space needed for our growing specialty clinics,” said Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics. “Using a public-private partnership model will allow us to move forward on an accelerated timeline while working collaboratively with developers, architects, contractors and others to ensure the building will best serve the needs of our community.”

The project will be presented to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on April 7. Pending approval, groundbreaking is planned for August 2020. Completion of the project is expected in 2022.

Rendering of the proposed Computer Design Research and Learning Center (Image: Booth Hansen/LMN Architects)

Computer Design Research and Learning Center

The Computer Design Research and Learning Center will include a 1,200-square-foot robotics lab and 16,000 square feet of classroom space. It also will be the new home for UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory, an internationally renowned interdisciplinary research lab.

“This new building represents the extraordinary momentum of the UIC College of Engineering, which has grown to serve more than 5,300 students each year,” said Peter Nelson, dean of the college.

“The building will also serve as an important space for our computer science department, which has seen skyrocketing enrollments, has six specialties ranked in the top 25 nationally and is leading the nation in recruiting world-class faculty members,” Nelson said.

Over the last 15 years, the UIC computer science department has grown from 187 undergraduate students to more than 1,400 students, and since 2018, the department has hired 13 new faculty members. 

The computer science department has approximately $45 million in active research grants, with national CSRankings in: web and information retrieval (7), economics and computation (12), artificial intelligence (17), logic and verification (17), machine learning and data mining (21), and natural language processing (21).

The mixed-use space will include research labs and collaborative areas for students and research groups.

“Computer science is also an increasingly popular minor among UIC students from a number of programs, like liberal arts and business, so this building will have an impact on many students across campus,” Nelson said.

The new building will be the second new construction project for UIC’s College of Engineering in recent years. The Engineering Innovation Building, which is home to the Chicago area’s only high-bay structural research laboratory, opened in July 2019.

Groundbreaking is estimated for November 2020 and completion is expected in 2022.

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