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Architectural engineering firm selected for School of Medicine

by Cheryl Roland

Aug. 2, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of medical facility designed by SLAM Collaborative.
Medical facility in Connecticut designed by SLAM Collaborative.
KALAMAZOO--The S/L/A/M Collaborative, a nationally known, Connecticut-based architectural and engineering firm with an extensive portfolio in medical and health science facilities, has been selected as the design firm for the Western Michigan University School of Medicine.

The firm was selected from a national field of companies seeking the role, according to officials on the medical school's facilities committee. That committee screened the original 25 applicant firms, narrowed the list to a field of finalists and made a final recommendation to the school's steering committee for final decision.

The new medical school is a partnership involving WMU and Kalamazoo's two teaching hospitals, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare.  The WMU president, hospital CEOs and medical school dean comprise the steering committee.

Based in Glastonbury, Conn., the 150-member SLAM also has offices in Atlanta, Boston and Syracuse, N.Y. For the WMU School of Medicine work, SLAM will partner with a well-known Kalamazoo-area firm, Diekema Hamann Architecture and Engineering, which has extensive experience in the medical facility arena as well.

SLAM also will work with a construction management firm, the selection of which is now under way. The name of the construction firm will be announced this fall. SLAM and the construction manager are expected to work together to provide feedback on such high-priority issues as site selection.

"Designing facilities that help educate healthcare professionals is both rewarding and challenging," says SLAM President Bob Pulito. "There is so much excitement and good will in the community right now, our challenge will be to help capture and promote that good will with every decision as we move forward."

SLAM has an extensive background in both the design of new medical and educational facilities and the repurposing of existing buildings, both options that are under consideration for the WMU School of Medicine.

Examples of the firm's projects

"The explosion of medical knowledge coupled with advances in instructional technology and a deeper understanding of how people learn has placed medical education facilities at the forefront of a revolution in teaching and learning," says SLAM's Pulito. "This is a transformative opportunity for the Kalamazoo community.  Creating a new School of Medicine is a bold and visionary undertaking requiring an equally bold and dynamic architectural response. Just as the Kalamazoo community has 'made no small plans' with its goal of developing one of the top medical schools in the country, the S/L/A/M Collaborative also will make 'no small plans.'"

About WMU School of Medicine

WMU's new School of Medicine has been in planning for three years, and fundraising, accreditation work and curriculum design for the school are well under way.  Expected to welcome its first class in fall 2014, the school will be a privately funded initiative housed at Western Michigan University, which is one of the nation's 139 public research universities, as designated by the Carnegie Foundation, and one of only five such universities in Michigan. In March, WMU announced a foundational gift of $100 million for the medical school from anonymous donors.