Med school dedicates new BJC Institute of Health building

| Staff Reporter

The new $235 million BJC Institute of Health building was formally dedicated at a Collaboration Celebration last week. The building houses many laboratories and support facilities for the university’s Biomed 21 initiative–an initiative that promotes the interdisciplinary study of diseases in the hope of shortening the time between a research discovery and its effects on patients.

The initiative calls for collaboration among research scientists from an array of disciplines and between medical doctors with a range of specialties.

The new building is the physical manifestation of the BioMed 21 initiative. Through shared conference rooms, breakout rooms, and open lab facilities, the building is intended to facilitate collaboration between scientists from different disciplines.

Washington University medical student Carl DeSelm was optimistic about the potential for collaboration inherent in the building’s architecture.

“The building physically brings together people who are working on similar things, forcing them to interact more, leading to more collaboration and faster progress in medical research,” DeSelm said.

Along with facilities key to BioMed 21’s success, the BJC Institute of Health building will also house the School of Medicine’s Division of Pediatric Surgery and the Department of Pathology and Immunology, as well as offices, laboratories, and clinical pharmacies for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

In front of the building lies the newly designed Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza. Artist Maya Lin–who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama–collaborated with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. (MVVA) to design the plaza.

Larry Shapiro, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said that he hopes the plaza will be “an inviting, peaceful social center” for all community members.

Lin and MVVA used an infinity style reflecting pool as the plaza’s center to help create this atmosphere. Additionally, the plaza features over 40,000 plants that are native to Missouri, as well as fiber optic lights that will recreate the twinkling of stars in the night sky when lit at night.