Renderings of Morsani Heart Health Institute unveiled

Renderings of the new Morsani College of Medicine Heart Health Institute were unveiled on Monday. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

An asymmetrical glass tower reaches into the night sky, boasting a big, bright USF logo. Poised at the intersection of two streets, it stands out among the backdrop of rectangular skyscrapers that define the downtown Tampa skyline.

This is the image presented in the preliminary renderings for the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Health Institute, USF’s addition to the downtown renovations Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has been moving along with since last year. 

These renderings are right where they need to be on the timeline for the building, Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine Dr. Charles Lockwood said.

“Right on schedule, right on budget, right on scope,” he said.

For the past six months, the college has catalogued everything that needed to be in the new building, such as dedicated office spaces, educational spaces, clinical areas and labs. Lockwood said the building must meet not only the needs for today, but also the needs of the college 30 years from now.

“This building will be our home for the next, who knows how long, but a significantly long period of time,” he said. “So, we carefully designed all the educational space in a way that would facilitate small group learning, active learning, classrooms, simulation and kind of a very high-tech approach to medical education, cognoscente of the fact that … when this class that just entered the Morsani College of Medicine in September graduates, medical knowledge will double every 73 days.”

The renderings show not only a high-tech building, Lockwood said, but a beautiful one. He said he thinks the aesthetics of the building will be attractive for Tampa’s downtown, making it a jewel in Vinik’s plans. The building is also functional, he said, optimizing the educational, research and even office spaces that he said are cutting edge.

The downtown relocation as a whole adds an aspect of convenience and proximity to the college, Lockwood said. The move will help bridge the distance between faculty at the school who have patients at places such as Tampa General Hospital, moving them closer to the these hospitals where their clinical activity takes place, Lockwood said. It also moves students closer to their clinical locations.

Lockwood said he feels the new building also gives the college a chance to change the educational environment, as the old building was designed for an older style of medical teaching that was based on lectures.

“… The ability to create an architecture that comports with the new educational approaches we take with medical students is probably the most exciting aspect …,” he said.

Now that the opinions of the administrators, researchers and educators that will be working in the building have been taken into account, the next steps are in the hands of the construction group, Skanska. 

This company will be handling the construction and, as of right now, the task of making up the detailed plans for the plumbing, HVAC, wiring and other systems the building need.

According to the company’s website, Skanska has been involved in projects such as the construction of University Medical Center at LSU and Metlife stadium, where the New York Giants play. 

The new college and institute should be open around September to November of 2019, as long as plans continue on schedule. When completed, the project will cost about $153 million, according to Lockwood. Most of the money spent so far has been on things such as soil analysis at the site and architectural design.

“We’ve spent kind of a fraction of what we’ll soon start spending on the actual construction part,” Lockwood said.

All but $41 million of the final cost is being provided by the Florida government, Lockwood said. He said about $18 million has been raised in private funds so far, but he is hoping for more to finish the building.

As more renderings and preparation for construction goes on, Lockwood said his job is to continue to recruit for the incoming classes at Morsani. Lockwood is also in charge of recruiting researchers for the new building, a task he said is running ahead of schedule. 

He said he sees the number of students applying to the college continue to climb with each passing year.

“Each year I say it’s a record number, but we keep going up each year, so that’s pretty exciting,” he said.