In anticipation of the $112 million renovation and expansion of Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, university officials gathered with the lead architects of the project for a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.
Planning for the renovation has been underway since 2009, said SDM Dean Jeffrey Hutter. The renovation will take three years to complete and add 48,000 square feet and a seven-story extension to the school.
Hutter said the construction is crucial to the improvement of the school because SDM does not currently have enough space to “take it to the next level” and become a premiere dental institution in the United States.
“We’re really right-sizing our building,” Hutter said. “We’re bringing it up to the square footage that will provide us with the space in order for us to accomplish all that we want to do as part of our strategic planning.”
The project will give the building a new façade and a patient entrance on the corner of Albany Street and East Newton Street. The renovated building will also feature a new 140-seat classroom, a new Simulation Learning Center and a pre-doctoral patient treatment center composed of 100 dental treatment rooms.
Hutter said the current SDM building lacks space specifically for instruction and patient care and that the renovations will solve these problems.
“[The renovation] allows us to move some things that were outside the building into our main dental school building, such as the Simulation Learning Center,” Hutter said.
Despite the construction, classes and patient treatment will continue as usual.
“We work really closely with the architects, the construction company, our project management team to basically say that we’re going to be staying open,” Hutter said. “We do everything possible in order to do that.”
Ali Malik, a first-year student in SDM, wrote in a Facebook message that he appreciates the fact the school made an effort to inform students and faculty about the renovations before construction began. Malik wrote that the new Simulation Learning Center will provide him a space to practice hands-on procedures.
Malik wrote he is most excited for the multi-faith prayer room that will be in the renovated building.
“This will make things easier for the Muslim students and faculty when our prayer times come in during the school or work day,” Malik wrote. “This also shows how Boston University is so accommodating of all faiths.”
Frances King, the consulting communication assistant to Hutter, said she expects the new building will have a greater patient-centric focus, as the wider front entrance will offer greater patient accessibility.
The renovation and expansion designs align with SDM’s group practice model, which promotes collaborative teaching and learning. King added that the designs also allow for the school to expand without substantially changing the area around the existing parts of the school.
“I think the whole planning team has looked at so many aspects of this school and how to maximize its current space without expanding its footprint a great deal,” King said. “They really are maximizing air space and existing space.”
Victor Chiadi, a first-year student in SDM, said he thinks the renovations could have positive externalities by attracting more prospective students to the school.
“We have to do things here like the renovations in order to show that our dental school is able to keep up with the other dental schools in the area,” Chiadi said. “Tufts renovated their dental school [a few] years ago, and it looks great, so I feel like it will keep up with other schools in the area.”
Chiadi said the current school lacks large individual clinic stations and study spaces within the building. Dental students currently use the Medical Campus library and other rooms within the Medical Campus to study.
“I’m looking forward to the clinic stations, which are supposed to be bigger,” Chiadi said, “and just to have newer special areas and student areas in general.”
Michelle Nguyen, a first-year student in SDM, said she thinks the renovated building will be much more aesthetically pleasing and attract more potential students and clients.
“I like the fact that they’re putting in a Simulation Learning Center within the dental school because as of right now we have to walk all the way across the street for it,” Nguyen said. “I definitely like the idea of all the modern technology and incorporating a student-resident learning lounge … I think the overall layout is genius, so I’m excited for all of it.”