A splendid new home for the School of Medicine
When the students in the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 attend their first lecture in September, they’ll do so in a new building that will be one of the premier medical-education facilities in North America.
For faculty and students alike, the gleaming four-storey, $77-million structure at the corner of Arch Street and Stuart Street is a long-awaited dream. For years, classes have been held not only in the School’s former headquarters, Botterell Hall, but also in scattered lecture halls, seminar rooms, laboratories, and even cafeterias across the campus. Botterell was built in 1979 as the home for the Faculty of Health Sciences, and over the past decade the medical school has outgrown the space.
In addition to providing a much-needed 11,600 square metres of space for teaching and learning, the as yet-unnamed new building has been designed specifically to support the delivery of the medical school’s new curriculum, whose pedagogy is centred around students working together to solve clinical problems instead of just listening and taking notes at lectures. Consequently, the new building includes dozens of meeting rooms designed specifically to facilitate small-group work. In fact, there’s enough space to allow the medical school’s entire complement of about 200 students to work in the building at the same time.
The new building includes two 125-seat rooms on the lower and first floors that are physically and acoustically designed so that a professor can stand at the front of the room and speak to the whole group, but also so students can swivel their seats to face those in the row behind them to form small (up to 10-person) groups. Computer monitors at the end of every second row of seats are linked to the main screen at the front of the room, so each group can easily view and comment amongst themselves on projected course material.
Much of the first floor is taken up by a de facto medical clinic with 20 examination rooms in which students can interview patients – trained actors, volunteers, or actual patients from the community – while being watched by instructors.
The second floor of the new building includes surgical skills and simulation labs that are equipped with high-tech mannequins that can realistically mimic medical symptoms and emergencies – for example, a patient having a heart attack or perhaps an epileptic seizure. Students can use the dummies to practise other procedures such as taking blood pressure readings or giving injections. At more than 2,600-square metres, these labs will be a big improvement over the simulation lab the medical school now shares with the School of Nursing. “We’re going to have one of the largest and best-equipped simulation centres in Canada,” says Dr. Lewis Tomalty, the School’s Vice-Dean of Medical Education, who was the faculty lead on the building project.
The third floor of the new building is for Anatomy, and includes an Anatomy Learning Centre and dissection lab, while the fourth floor is home to spacious integrated laboratories for Pharmacology and Physiology, and for Microbiology and Biochemistry.
The main building will be used for teaching and research, but three heritage houses facing Barrie Street have been incorporated into the overall design and will house administrative offices.