The Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University broke ground Thursday on their long-awaited 485,000-square-foot health education campus—a project that could cost a staggering $515 million and is expected to open in summer 2019.
Until Thursday, the university and the Clinic hadn't disclosed the cost or timeline for the project, which is being built on a jointly owned, 11-acre parcel on East 93rd Street between Euclid and Chester avenues near the Clinic's main campus. To date, the Clinic and the university said they've raised $180 million toward the project, which is being designed by London-based Foster + Partners architects.
“This is something that's going to be very transformative for the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve, the community, the students,” Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove told Crain's. “It'll set a new standard in education.”
In short, plans call for a unified space for the Clinic's Lerner College of Medicine, which is run jointly by both institutions, and the university's traditional medical school track. Last fall, the two institutions announced the project also would include students from dental medicine and nursing, as well as those from a new physician assistants program.
The $515 million project also includes a separate dental clinic education building across Chester Avenue from the larger health education building. In a news release, officials said the final cost of that building is still being determined, and they are hopeful it could lower the cost of the overall project.
In all, the Clinic and Case expect 2,300 students to be learning in the complex at the same time.
“These are two very strong organizations,” Case Western Reserve president Barbara Snyder said in an interview. “Our expectation is that this partnership will be good for both of us. Our goal is to be the international destination for health education.”
Case Western Reserve first announced its intention to build a new medical education building back in 2012. At that time, plans called for a roughly $50 million facility to be built on the site of the now-defunct Mt. Sinai Medical Center on East 105th Street in Cleveland. After that announcement, however, Cosgrove approached Snyder about collaborating on something even bigger.
The Clinic had long wanted to be regarded as a leader in medical education, and this new complex will be the physical manifestation of that vision. Moreover, following the pact, the Clinic put to rest its long search for a medical school partner, calming any of Case Western Reserve's worries that another player—such as Columbia University, which was floated as a possible Clinic medical school sidekick in 2007—could encroach on its turf.
Original plans for the joint project called for a 165,000-square-foot building at a cost of about $80 million. However, last fall, both parties announced they had expanded the project to include other health disciplines. The project ballooned by more than 300,000 square feet and, apparently, by a few hundred million dollars. Just by comparison, the Clinic's iconic Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion—the front door of the hospital—cost just north of $500 million.
Also, both Cosgrove and Snyder said there's room on the site for even more growth.
“When we started, it was just a medical education building. We started to think what we could do if we could really put all of the health sciences schools together—not just on one campus, but one building,” Snyder said.
She added, “Buildings have a way of keeping people apart even if they're close together. This will not allow that to happen.”
The building is expected to boast some pretty impressive technology. For one, students will use Microsoft's augmented reality device—HoloLens—for subjects like anatomy. Moreover, officials expect to Integrate IBM's Watson technology, which is best known for handily defeating two of the best Jeopardy! players of all time. The Clinic has been collaborating with IBM over the last few years to boost Watson's medical know-how.
As for the design of the building, Cosgrove said, “We want to have something that is going to endure architecturally.” The main building will feature a 27,000-square-foot, light-filled central atrium, a 7,000-square-foot auditorium and a 4,800-square-foot lecture hall.
“I don't know of any sort of educational facility that's going to be quite like this,” Cosgrove said. “I think it'll be pretty extraordinary.”