Medical classroom renovations link past, present, future


An old operating theater in the Neuropsychiatric Institute was modernized to host seminars, courses and clerkships. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin


An old surgical lighting fixture hangs above a newly updated classroom in the Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Room 765 is a combination of past, present and future.

The 80-year-old building in which it is located was once a psychiatric hospital. The room was an operating theater where surgical procedures were performed on cadavers as a medical audience watched from the balcony, said Nicholas Kane, chief operating officer for the College of Medicine.

Now the area, renovated through the Chancellor’s Classroom Improvement Initiative, is an educational hub for residency programs. The classroom, which can fit about 60 people, houses the Grand Rounds series where physicians, faculty and medical residents discuss case reviews and training techniques. It will also be used for health sciences seminars, courses and clerkships.

Light fixture in renovated medical classroom in Neuropsychiatric Institute remains from room's past as operating theater

The light fixture in the renovated classroom remains from the room’s past life as an as operating theater. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

“It has unanimously been positively received,” Kane said. “The design team met this challenge of producing the technology requirements for modern education but simultaneously celebrated the history of the space.”

Designers removed the elevated balcony. The original terrazzo flooring was refinished, walls were painted gray and wooden slats were installed on the walls to tie the room together, said David Taeyaerts, campus architect. Moveable chairs and continuous tabletops with power outlets replaced steep risers.

“The room was really in a poor state — it was clearly two rooms struggling to function as one,” said Taeyaerts, associate vice chancellor for learning environments. “We wanted to turn it into a contemporary learning space. It feels much more professional and a place where physicians can feel more at home.”

Multimedia enhancements provide videoconferencing with partner institutions around the world, Kane said. “We can hold meetings for residents on both sides of the hemisphere.”

In a nod to its past, there’s also a display case for surgical artifacts and the original surgical schedules.

The room is a model for future renovations in the College of Medicine, Kane said.

“The marriage of the classic and modern resources is a novel approach for our facilities and a successful approach that we can use to reinvigorate these spaces.

“Hopefully there will be more to come.”


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