Xavier University Selects Design and Build Teams for its Forthcoming $109 Million College of Medicine

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Xavier University has chosen several firms to oversee the design and construction of its upcoming $109 million college of medicine.

Slam Collaborative, a renowned national firm founded in Connecticut with offices in Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, will serve as the architect of record, while Cincinnati-based MSA Design will perform local design work.

Xavier chose Messer Construction, headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, to build the project. Messer is the region’s second-largest general contractor.

Columbus-based MKSK will design the landscaping. Xavier is utilizing other local consultants for civil and structural engineering needs, according to Dr. Steven Halm, Xavier’s College of Osteopathic Medicine founding dean.

The university selected these firms in recent months. Halm has already met with Slam several times ahead of the building’s fall groundbreaking. The final design will differ from the early rendering Xavier circulated when announcing the medical college last year.

“It will blend in nicely with the Xavier architecture style, but it’ll have some pretty modern twists and features,” Halm told the Courier. “We’re in the second month of the planning phase. Right now, it’s a matter of what facilities will be on what floor, what the square footage will be, and from there we can nail down some specific costs.”

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Final design for Xavier University’s $109 Million College of Medicine

The university will finalize designs in July and publish new renderings toward the end of the summer.

Slam Collaborative specializes in medical facilities design. The firm previously won contracts for designing the Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa, the Fertitta Family College of Medicine at the University of Houston, and buildings at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, the Duke University School of Medicine, and the University of California, Irvine.

The firm also designed the renovation and expansion of Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati, completed in 2015.

MSA Design is a longtime Xavier partner, having worked on the school’s master plan in 2005 and, most recently, the Health United Building, which opened in January 2020.

Messer served as the general contractor for UC Health’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute and UC Health’s emergency department expansion and is currently working on Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s medical office building in Eastgate.

The firm has worked on projects at Xavier for nearly two decades. “Messer is proud to be back on Xavier’s campus to lead construction of the first-of-its-kind Jesuit College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Messer Vice President Pete Bergman told the Business Courier. “This project builds on the 900,000 square feet of campus our team has successfully transformed over the past 17 years.”

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How does the new $109 Million College of Medicine differ from normal classroom

Medical college buildings differ from normal classroom buildings on university campuses because medical students ordinarily spend most of their waking hours on-site. “They eat, breathe and live in that facility,” Halm said.

Halm intends to create learning communities by dividing the 160 students into four cohorts of about 40, each centralized around a dining space. The goal is to accommodate the lifestyle of a busy medical student while alleviating some strain.

The cohorts will offer individual faculty, advisers, and recreation opportunities centered around those dining spaces, where students will learn about nutrition and food preparation – both for their patients’ health and their own.

“Medical students traditionally come to medical school, and by the time they graduate, they’re very stressed,” Halm said. “It’s not an easy process. I want my medical students to end happier than when they show up. I want them to have direction. And I want them to have purpose. That’s at the core of how Xavier’s medical school will be unique. It’s a very interesting mind-body-spirit connection.”

The new $109 million College of Medicine building will also feature ample simulation space, so medical students can learn experientially what it’s like to meet, diagnose, and treat patients. The school will use manikins, hired patient-actors, and virtual reality technology.

“We want to put them through those rigors like you would a commercial pilot, then have debriefings to discuss how they can do better,” Halm said.

Xavier University expects construction to be complete by fall 2026. The $109 Million College of Medicine will welcome its first class by fall 2027.

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