Location: Buffalo, NY
Client: State University Construction Fund 
Architect: HOK Architects
Photo Credit: HOK Architects

YAS is the sole structural engineer for the new 600,000 SF academic building for expanded medical and biomedical sciences instruction and research at the University at Buffalo. The new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will bring 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown Buffalo each day.

The design consists of two L-shaped structures linked by a 7-story, light-filled glass atrium. This 9-story structure, which targets LEED Gold certification, features a high-performance terra-cotta rain screen and a glass curtain wall system that brings daylight deep inside the building. This new building was designed using the REVIT program to conform to the BIM modeling system.

One of the largest challenges in both the design and construction of this project was to keep the train running on its regular schedule and keep the train station open while the 9-story, over 160 feet tall building was erected over and around it. It wasn’t only the train station that was in the way of this building but the power supply to the entire system which comfortably sat on the ground floor where most buildings would have had a lobby or retail.

Huge trusses were designed and picked into place. Plate girders weighing over 700plf and spanning 80 feet were fabricated at special plants and brought to the site where 2 cranes were needed to position them properly. During the night the piles for 2 columns were drilled through the edge of the station which was to be renovated after the building was erected and several nights later the columns were threaded through the building’s roof.

To aid in the construction, we requested scanning and tracing of all the electrical conduit the emerged from the power supply structure. In some cases there were so many conduits that instead of placing the columns erratically on the floor above the load was transferred at the base where a plate girder, now buried underground spanned over the conduits to 2 pile caps on either side.

To further complicate matters, the site had a high water table and the basement was 12 feet into the water. In order to house the vivarium and all the animals as well as cadavers the basement was sunk 30 feet into the ground. Thirty feet high walls were designed with shoring against the NFTA and built in phases, removing piece of the shoring was the wall was stabilized. The piles were design for both compression and tension. The slab is both a mat that counters the water and acts as a pile cap for the piles.

The existing drawings of the neighboring 1900’s building and the NFTA were analyzed carefully as to create a cost efficient and programmatically acceptable structure. 

Although this building is a Medical School, it has half a floor of fully function Operating Rooms, 2 floors of Research Labs with strict vibration criteria, and 1 floor of patient beds all over huge lecture halls that needed to be column free.

An additional challenge was presented when the criteria to reach the goal of 2000 micro inches/sec for the velocity of the structural floor system for the laboratories and at the same time present a cost efficient structure. Structures which house offices only require a velocity of 16,000micro in/sec. Operating rooms are 4000micro in/sec. But the labs in this building required even stricter criteria. Both steel and concrete were explored and several iterations were examined when we finally reached a combination of steel and concrete that would minimize movement yet not overly affect the weight and thus cost of the structure.

UB’s new medical school features: 

  • 8 floors; 628,000 gross square feet
  • Interior seven-story glass atrium, terra-cotta and glass rainscreen façade
  • State-of-the art laboratory space
  • Sky-bridge connections to adjacent hospital, medical building
  • Expanded patient care simulation center for clinical, surgical and robotic surgery training