Weill Cornell Medical College Breaks Ground for New Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building

First Clinical Building in Medical College's 106-Year History

May 25, 2004

New York, NY

New Building Is Cornerstone of Medical College Campus and Flagship Building for Cornell University in NYC

Weill Cornell Medical College today broke ground on its new Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building, the 106-year-old institution's first clinical facility. The centerpiece of Weill Cornell's capital campaign, Advancing the Clinical Mission, the 13-story,$230-million medical complex will serve as the new focus for patient care and education at the Medical College's campus, as well as the flagship building for Cornell University in New York City.

A comfortable, modern, and aesthetically pleasing environment designed to make the ambulatory patient experience pleasant and efficient, the building will house numerous specialty clinical programs, as well as world-class research and medical education. Located at 1305 York Avenue at East 70th Street, it is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.

This building represents the essence of Cornell a place of higher education and intellectual capital bar none, a source of health and wellness for all, and a program that will shape the face of medicine for decades to come, says Jeffrey S. Lehman, President of Cornell University. As the University's flagship building in New York City, it will be home to both interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration.

This Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building is the centerpiece of the most ambitious capital campaign in the history of our medical school, says Sanford I. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Overseers of Weill Cornell Medical College. The planning and fundraising for the building have been a true tour de force, and an exercise in intense collaboration requiring hundreds of hours of manpower. I thank everyone who had the vision and foresight to extend our horizons, so that today we celebrate the expansion of Weill Cornell's clinical and research programs that will better serve our families. It is through the generosity of our donors and friends, our extraordinary physicians and scientists, our government and civic leaders that we can look forward to a new era of patient care.

Today marks an historic occasion, says Kevin R. Brine, Chairman of Weill Cornell's Advancing the Clinical Mission capital campaign and member of Weill Cornell's Board of Overseers. We start construction on a building that will truly serve as a model for the coordinated delivery of superior healthcare services in the 21st century, and set a new standard for patient-centered, integrated care, and medical education.

This new building will further Weill Cornell's tri-partite mission of research, teaching, and patient care, says Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. By consolidating many clinical practices under one roof, patients will have a central location to obtain needed medical services. And, by situating Medical College students and physician-scientists closer to clinical care, the building will be a model of medical education and will facilitate the kind of clinical research that leads to medical breakthroughs.

The new building is also part of a larger trend towards ambulatory services, adds Dr. Gotto. In recent years there has been a shift away from procedures requiring lengthy hospital stays. Innovations in minimal-access techniques, coupled with advanced imaging technology, have, in many cases, rendered long periods of convalescence obsolete. A patient is now likely to be discharged on the same day as 3 having undergone treatment for a range of conditions. In 2003, Weill Cornell physicians managed more than 700,000 ambulatory encounters.

A groundbreaking ceremony today included remarks by the Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York; Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields; Jeffrey S. Lehman, President of Cornell University; Sanford I. Weill, Chairman of the Weill Cornell Medical College Board of Overseers; Maurice R. Greenberg, Member of Weill Cornell's Board of Overseers; Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Dean of the Medical College; Dr. Herbert Pardes, President and C.E.O. of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the College's clinical partner; and Kevin R. Brine, Chairman of Weill Cornell's Advancing the Clinical Mission capital campaign.

This new affiliation is expected to accelerate the launch of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, a collection of researchers and physicians devoted to rapidly translating research into treatment for patients. Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian also will assist The Methodist Hospital in establishing an expanded residency program and a new physician organization.

Patient Amenities

As part of its patient-centered design philosophy, the building will offer an array of special amenities not commonly found in healthcare institutions. According to the building's planners, the total experience of visiting the doctor will be more streamlined, seamless, and efficient from scheduling an appointment, to locating the doctor's office, the doctor's visit itself, and any follow-up care. Healthcare professionals will be on hand to help patients every step of the way.

A central feature of the new building will be the Patient Welcome Resource Center. Located at the top of the escalators from the entrance lobby, the Center will offer a comfortable, spacious place for patients and families to rest between appointments and browse through medical information in one of its lounges, on a computer workstation, or in the Health Education Library. The Center will also host health education seminars that will be free and open to the general public.

Additional plans include valet parking, and full use of a clinical information system and electronic medical records by all physicians in the building.

During the planning phase of the building, and based on extensive research with patients, physicians and staff, Weill Cornell's Physician Organization embarked on implementing a new vision of the ambulatory patient care experience an initiative called Weill Cornell: We Care.

Consolidated Practices

Key clinical programs, such as cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, ENT, and radiology, will be expanded and housed in this new facility thus offering most patients the clinical convenience of one-stop shopping. The Department of Radiology will occupy an entire floor.

Medical Education and Research

Designed to meet the requirements of contemporary medical schools, the building will offer medical students first-class facilities and first-hand experiences observing and participating in real-life medical situations. The building will feature an innovative Clinical Skills Center, a 10,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art teaching facility in which students can practice clinical skills in a controlled environment with standardized "actor" patients, and begin training in patient interactions early in their education. A self-study lab will make available virtual reality technology and computer-controlled mannequins simulating various conditions in order to allow students to work individually on a range of medical procedures.

The new building will also foster opportunities for scientific collaboration among the College's researchers by providing them with additional space and the latest technology. Occupying the 13th floor, the new, multidisciplinary Institute for Computational Biomedicine (ICB) specializes in the development of research technologies employing mathematical models, physics, and high-speed computing to analyze tremendous volumes of scientific data to test hypotheses about the structure and function of the human body, and search for clues to its mysteries. Unique among its peers for the integration of genomic and cellular data with a broad, systemic approach to medicine, the ICB facilitates the translation of new discoveries into clinical therapies. For example, computational biomedicine has allowed investigators literally to see the pathway between a genetic mutation and the medical condition it causes, and made possible other important discoveries that never before lay within the reach of human knowledge. The ICB also houses an innovative computer-assisted virtual environment, known as CAVE; in this virtual reality theater, physicians and scientists can visualize in three dimensions the computer-generated representations of molecules, cells, and organs.

The ICB also serves as a base for education and training of faculty and students at Weill Cornell Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences. A key part of its mission is to develop a new generation of scientists rigorously trained in the core areas of bioinformatics and computational sciences as they relate to medicine.


Guided by the principle that the building's design is integral to the healing process, architectural features have been carefully selected to maximize patient well-being. Reflective pools, cascading water features, and still water images will accent the building's public spaces, and large picture windows with special fritted exterior glass will allow soft light to permeate the interior, yet preserve patient privacy. Interior design details, such as the color of the woods, the texture of the fabrics and walls, and the color scheme have all been carefully chosen to complement the soothing, patient friendly environment.

Architecture and Construction

Weill Cornell Medical College's new Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building has been designed by Polshek Partnership Ballinger Architects, a 120-person firm known for architectural excellence and innovative design, and for its longstanding commitment to cultural, educational, governmental, and scientific institutions. The new building, with its gently sloped vertical surfaces, reflects the gothic motif of the original New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center across York Avenue, while its luminous veil suggests a new direction for healthcare: elegant, inviting, and unexpectedly refined.

Among other New York projects, Polshek is responsible for the Carnegie Hall Renovation, the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art Renovation and Expansion.

Bovis Lend Lease, ranked the second largest construction manager last year, is providing all local construction services.