Construction to begin on $90M medical school
A depiction of MSU’s Grand Rapids-based medical school building, The Secchia Center, which will be completed in 2010.
With costs determined and drawings unveiled, MSU administrators finally had a chance to celebrate the $90 million medical school expected to open in 2010 in Grand Rapids.
A plan that has been in the works for more than a year was set into action Friday, as the MSU Board of Trustees granted the university “authorization to proceed” with construction.
“I want to recognize this as the anchor building for the medical mile in Grand Rapids,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “This is an ambitious project, not only the building but the whole academic component.”
The Secchia Center is named for Peter Secchia, an alumnus and Grand Rapids resident who gave $20 million to the project.
“It’s an absolutely fabulous piece of architecture,” Secchia said. “It had to be first-class and the university knew that.”
The board approved a .2-acre addition to the site, at a cost of $950,000, that will adjoin the already purchased land. Fred Poston, vice president for finance and operations, said the cost was approximately $200,000 less than the appraised price. The board also approved the cost for the facility, which rose $20 million from the initial estimate.
“The charge was to produce a unique building and I think this design satisfies that criteria,” Poston said.
Funding for the school has not been completed, mostly because of the cost increase announcement this fall.
“The idea for the facility was that it would be supported through donor funds,” Simon said.
“Originally in the stakeholder’s report, the estimate of the project was $70 million. What has changed are a couple of things about the project. This has to be one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in West Michigan.”
To aid in the fundraising, MSU called on Grand Action, a nonprofit organization of philanthropists based in Grand Rapids. Don Maine, chancellor emeritus of Davenport University, said Grand Action has raised $36 million for the project thus far.
“It’s easy,” Maine said. “We talk about what’s going on in Grand Rapids and the final component is the medical school. Over time, the rankings of the MSU medical school are going to increase greatly as a research institute and medical school.”
Following the board meeting, trustees and administrators traveled to Grand Rapids to celebrate the approval for construction with officials from the medical school, local medical facilities and others involved with the project.
The school, located at Michigan Street and Division Avenue, will be seven stories tall and 180,000 square feet.
“It was very much intended to be distinguished,” said Shirine Boulos Anderson, a project architect from Ellenzweig Associates Inc. architecture and planning firm. “It isn’t just you come to class and you leave. It’s a home.”
Marsha Rappley, dean of the College of Human Medicine, said the building was primarily an educational facility, but would partner with established medical facilities in Grand Rapids to do research of cancer, neuroscience, cardiovascular activity and women’s health.
“It helps us to reach our goal as a research-intensive school,” she said.
“We designed it to be able to adapt to things we don’t even know yet.”