posted 2012-09-21 20:22:21

Hunter to Construct Science Complex

Hunter and Memorial Sloan-Kettering team up for new buildings and degree options 

Kimberly Devi Milner

Associate News Editor

Artist’s rendering of the East River skyline upon completion of Hunter’s new science building. Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications.
Hunter’s nursing students and science researchers are set to get a brand new medical complex in the coming decade. The state of the art facility will open on the Upper East Side in a new partnership with world renowned cancer treatment facility, Memorial Sloan Kettering.

On Sept. 10 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would sell 66,000 sq ft. of vacated land on East 73rd Street, near the FDR Drive, to Hunter College and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for $215 million. The joint real estate venture will bring two new state-of- the-art science buildings to the site that was formerly a city sanitation garage.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will develop a new cancer patient out-treatment center that will offer bone marrow transplants at the site, while Hunter College will build a smaller new science and Health Professional building next door.
“More than ever Hunter College is a science power house,” said Hunter’s President Jennifer Raab at the press conference. “The achievements of our faculty have been acknowledged with record-breaking grants from the NIH [National Institute of Health], tens of millions of dollars annually--an extraordinary accomplishment for a public college without a medical school,” she said.

The new science building will provide Hunter science faculty with more advanced surroundings, and also bring Hunter’s nursing program within walking distance of the main 68th Street campus. The new land acquisition is a continuation of the college’s efforts to expand its public health professions and research facilities in CUNY’s “Decade of Science.”
The East 73rd Street real estate deal comes roughly five months after Hunter College announced its purchase of a floor in Weill Cornell Medical College’s new research building slated to open in 2014. In 2009 Hunter started constructing its school of Public Health in East Harlem.

“It’s great the president was able to accomplish this feat nearby. Faculty and students can be part of that research happening,” said Shirley Raps, the chair of the Biological Science Department, in an interview with The Envoy. “When materials need to be on ice, or need to be carefully transferred, you’re more likely to use facilities that are around you and this is a fantastic surrounding,” she said.

It remains uncertain whether whole departments, or individual researchers will be moved into the new science building once it is built.
“One strength of the sciences is that we have undergraduates working with us,” Raps said, “We want to make sure some arrangements are made for the students to get to the new building.”

The new science building was bought partially in exchange for giving Brookdale Health Science campus--the current home of the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, and the college’s residence hall- -back to the city. According to the mayor, the 25th Street Brookdale Campus will be demolished. Brookdale is valued at $180 million, and will be vacated in 2015, according to a spokesperson from the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
Brookdale was originally commissioned in 1954 as the Bellevue School of Nursing to house and train women arriving from around the world to work as nurses at Bellevue Hospital Center. The complex served as Bellevue’s School of Nursing until the school closed in 1969, and was inherited by Hunter College, who transformed it into the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing. Bellevue nurses  continue to reside on two floors of the Brookdale complex.
Hunter is now offering other housing options at the 92nd Street Y, and on 97th Street, where annual rates range from $10,000 to $14,000.

Several faculty members expressed excitement regarding the new facility, “In the new building labs are actually going to be blueprinted,” said Michael Dunham, a facility coordinator from the Hunter- Bellevue School of Nursing, referring to inconveniences caused by several of Brookdale’s makeshift classrooms. Dunham noted that Hunter’s Nursing program is currently at capacity, with roughly 140 students graduating each year.
The new facility offers not only more physical space, but more degree options, said President Rabb, “we will be able to grow our exceptional nursing school, which already offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a new doctorate in nursing practice, to our very diverse student population.”

Photo courtesy of Office of Communications.