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A new interprofessional hub opens on U. Minnesota’s campus

The Health Sciences Education Center includes two floors for simulation and immersive training.

September 16, 2020 |

The new Health Science Education Center is designed and built to promote student-faculty interaction and training. Image: Peter Seiger

The University of Minnesota alumni account for more than 70% of that state’s health professionals. To help prepare the next generation, the university’s Twin Cities campus recently debuted its Health Sciences Education Center, a hub for UM’s health professional schools, and designed to promote interprofessional education and interaction that prioritizes student and faculty well-being.

The 202,000-sf Education Center is positioned to be one of the more comprehensive interprofessional facilities in the country. The project entailed six stories of new construction, and four stories of renovation of an adjacent building. The two structures are connected by portals on four floors.

“The new Health Sciences Education Center is much more than a building; it is a catalyst for change as we prepare the next generation of health care professionals,” says Mark Rosenberg, MD, Vice Dean for education and academic affairs in the Medical School. 

Early examples of the Center’s multipurpose utility and transformative potential were evident last summer, when HSEC was used in collaboration with the School of Public Health, Medical School and the Medical Reserve Corps to assist the Minnesota Department of Health in COVID-19 contact tracing. M Simulation—a university team that designs and delivers training experiences for health science students and other stakeholders—also used HSEC’s spaces to train incoming residents and students on personal protective equipment in clinical environments.


The new HSEC has space for small and large group learning and instruction. Images: Lara Swimmer


The new HSEC includes: 

Center for Health Interprofessional Programs, which connects health professions students from varying disciplines, allowing them to collaborate, network, socialize, and learn;

Biomedical Library and Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, which connects students to healthcare’s history and opportunities for invention and product development that might define the industry’s future, including a makerspace and virtual reality studio;

Simulation Labs on two floors that connect students to the patient experience and the reality of working alongside their interdisciplinary peers. Jakub Tolar, Dean of UM’s Medical School and Vice President of its Office of Academic Clinical Affairs, explains that these labs help prepare students for real-life medical events and crisis, for which “you have to train yourself, almost like an athlete.”

The S/L/A/M Collaborative and Perkins and Will were co-design architects on HSEC. SLAM led this project’s program validation, utilization analysis, building planning, and the documentation of all classrooms, immersive learning environments, and administrative spaces. Perkins and Will, as AOR, provided the exterior and massing design, interior finishes and furniture selection, and public/social space documentation. The Building Team included JE Dunn (GC), IMEG (MEPF), Palanisami & Associates (SE), EVS Inc. (CE), and Sextant (AV consultant).


The building's lobbies (above) have lots of seating and natural light. The Center's library features makerspaces and virtual studios. Images: Lara Swimmer, SLAM


HSEC, which broke ground in February 2018, replaces a four-story brick structure, called the VFW Cancer Research Center and Masonic Memorial Building, that was completed in 1957. The renovated space in the Phillips Wangersteen Building replaces underutilized clinics.

The State of Minnesota invested $66.7 million in construction as part of its 2017 special session bonding bill. The University, along with support from donors, funded an additional $33.3 million in construction costs. Predesign and design from reallocated TCF Bank Stadium bond proceeds totaled $8.6 million. The total cost of the project is $108.6 million, according to the university.

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