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Excitement for New West Wing Rises with Beam

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With the final steel beam in place, replete with signatures from members of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC communities and local leaders, the West Wing addition to Alan Magee Scaife Hall moves one step closer to completion and to serving as a contemporary facility for Pitt School of Medicine students. The state-of-the-art addition is expected to open in 2022.

The need for the expansion was clear, according to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who spoke at the beam-raising ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 26. “We’re building a world-class facility to match our world-class medical school. It’s something we owed the medical students.”

The new wing will offer teaching, relaxation and study spaces, including a 600-person capacity auditorium, the lower half of which has moveable seating for multipurpose use; small group spaces that can shift to support more case-based and team-based educational approaches; and a gross anatomy lab that combines the benefits of traditional cadaveric dissection with a facility for augmented/virtual reality. The addition will also feature a testing room for written and computer-based assessments, allowing everyone to test concurrently, reducing proctoring needs and adding convenience for learners, staff and faculty.

“This is really about the future of Pitt Health Sciences,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine. “It is a beacon of our commitment to the health sciences.”

The wing will also provide multipurpose spaces on every floor and open areas for study, group work or small conversations. A fireplace with space around it will supply a welcoming area for relaxation and reflection. Among other amenities: a café that offers indoor and outdoor seating; an increased number of larger lockers and changing rooms so students have designated places to keep their personal items; student lounges; private study spaces; library classrooms; and a designated printer/copier area allowing 24-hour student access. 

A new curriculum will launch in the fall 2023, and the building will serve as a platform for educational approaches that include more active learning and frequent assessment, novel use of technology to improve learning, better integration and room for team-building and collaboration.

“I’m very excited about this because innovation in medicine is something I care deeply about,” second-year medical student Nicolás Kass said. “It’s always encouraging to see Pitt having the same innovation and thought going into the spaces that define our education system.”

As part of Thursday’s ceremony, students from the current graduating classes presented items that speak to their experiences at Pitt to be stored in a time capsule. Among those items were a white coat signed by students in their first year, a photo of second-year students in a Zoom call, a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer from students in their third year, a sealed envelope with a poem in it written by a fourth-year medical student and a stuffed-pet-style microbe antibody from graduate students.

See renderings and read more about the West Wing addition to Alan Magee Scaife Hall in Pitt Med magazine’s spring 2019 edition.

 

— Michael  Aubele