Campus and The Anschutz Foundation leaders, shovels in hand, on Wednesday turned ground on which the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus takes another bold step toward revolutionizing health care for the region and the world.
The Anschutz Health Sciences Building, which is expected to open in mid-2021, integrates functionality, healing and future-mindedness into its stunning seven-story design:
- Functional: provides much-needed space for education, research and clinical programs at CU Anschutz, one of the largest and most advanced academic medical campuses in the nation;
- Healing: its research and innovation will improve mental, behavioral and overall health for Coloradans and people across globe; and
- Future-focused: the building will be a centerpiece for collaboration, a space where leaders, entrepreneurs and other thinkers work together to reshape the future of health care.
Future of innovation ecosystem
“This building is the next phase of our future — it’s really 390,000 square feet of possibilities,” Chancellor Don Elliman says in a video about the facility, which will be built immediately west of Research 2.
About 100 members of the campus leadership team, representatives from The Anschutz Foundation and other dignitaries attended the groundbreaking. Attendees included former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a longtime campus supporter, as well as representatives from the external partners and architectural firms working on the project.
Inside the Krugman Conference Hall, a host of speakers commemorated the occasion before stepping outside to turn earth with gold-painted shovels. The momentous kick-off marks the first new building to rise on the academic campus in several years.
The last time a major, general-use building was constructed here, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus had 2,900 faculty members, Elliman said. “Now we’re tipping 5,000, so there’s been an enormous amount of growth, obviously, and this building is desperately needed and will add an amazing asset to this campus.”
The chancellor noted that innovation doesn’t happen inside silos. Rather, “it happens when people work together in teams across disciplines,” Elliman said. “We look at this building as being a hugely integral part of the future of the innovation ecosystem on this campus.”
CU President Bruce Benson called it an “important day,” giving special thanks to Philip Anschutz and The Anschutz Foundation, which in August made an unprecedented financial commitment of $120 million to accelerate the campus’s growth and development. The gift supports strategic faculty recruitment and retention, innovative research efforts, industry partnerships and technology transfer, as well as the new interdisciplinary Anschutz Health Sciences Building.
“This building will help CU Anschutz on its trajectory as one of the leading medical care, research and education facilities in the world,” Benson said.
Extraordinary, state-of-the-art facility
Christian Anschutz, president of The Anschutz Foundation, said the foundation has a deep commitment to improving health and wellness. “We are proud to support the development of this extraordinary, state-of-the-art facility that will provide hope and healing for so many, and will afford Colorado the opportunity to change the future of health care for generations to come. Our family and foundation are honored to be part of the shared vision that will further propel the Anschutz Medical Campus to premier status among medical centers in the country.”
Ted Harms, the foundation’s executive director, said the groundbreaking signals a challenge to everyone in the room, their colleagues and all who will follow in doing the campus’s important work. “The future is ahead of us, and the folks in this room are going to have to pick up the ball and keep moving,” he said. “I look forward to watching you impact the lives of people in Colorado and beyond.”
John J. Reilly Jr., MD, dean of the CU School of Medicine and vice chancellor for health affairs, underscored the need for more physical room on campus. “As Don mentioned, we’re out of space. We’ve had tremendous growth; we had 2 million patient visits on this campus last year for people from every county in Colorado as well as all the states in the region,” he said. “So, this is a next step that will allow us to build and consolidate some of our important programs looking into the future.”
Reshape health care system
He said the integration of disciplines within the building — including personalized and precision medicine, biostatistics and informatics, mental and behavioral health, health policy and health-outcomes research — will further help form the base of evidence “that allows us to reshape the health care system into one that we can actually afford for the future.”
The video included comments from building occupants such as the Colorado Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute, the Department of Psychiatry and the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine and the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence.
As attendees munched on shovel-shaped chocolates, sipped coffee and mingled in the conference room, Elliman reflected on the campus’s rapid growth, and another major milestone reached.
“To see everything that’s happened here in the last 15 to 20 years is remarkable, but I think and hope that you’ll find what’s going to happen next is really the start of the show,” he said.