Construction Begins on New UC Irvine Health Sciences Complex

November 19, 2020 Updated: November 19, 2020

Construction is underway on a new $134 million health sciences complex at the University of California–Irvine (UCI).

The facility, located on the corner of Bison and California avenues, will be used for integrative health patient care, training, and research.

“Ground has been broken, but barely,” Nicole Feldman, a UCI communications officer, told The Epoch Times. “We are in pretty early stages at this point.”

The Orange County site will include two buildings: a five-story, 135,111-square-foot facility that will include the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, and an adjoining four-story, 77,028-square-foot building that will house the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

The complex was designed with “biophilia”—or nature-focused—features in mind, including access to light and air for the buildings’ occupants, and views of vegetation and water. It will include a 150-seat auditorium, a central courtyard, a Zen garden, a 600-foot-long wellness walk, and designated areas for activities such as yoga and tai chi.

Epoch Times Photo
A rendering shows the courtyard of the new University of California–Irvine Health Sciences and Nursing School complex in Irvine, Calif. (Courtesy of HED)

“The design is dedicated to supporting human health and the healing experience in a holistic way. This aspect of the project mission infused our process,” said Martha Ball, a project manager at HED, the architecture and engineering firm responsible for designing the complex with The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) .

“Design strategies for the new buildings on the UCI campus were strongly influenced by biophilia—the human tendency to interact with other forms of life in nature—and attention to wellness at all scales,” Ball said.

The university contracted Hathaway Dinwiddie, a century-old company known for constructing many of California’s iconic buildings, to complete the project.

Costs were supported by major donors including Susan and Henry Samueli, who gave $200 million to the university for construction of a college focused on interdisciplinary integrative health sciences.

The William and Sue Gross Family Foundation also donated $40 million to UCI for the establishment of a nursing school and to assist in the construction of its building.

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Steve Goldstein said that the university is “creating a national ‘one-health’ model for discovery, teaching and healing that brings together the strengths of the disciplines of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and population health.”

“These two new buildings, part of our expanded health sciences campus, are designed to foster the creation of the diverse healthcare workforce of tomorrow,” he said in a press release.

“The facilities are built to enable interprofessional education and a future of team-based care that benefits from healthcare providers that operate in synchrony to support health and wellness.”

Goldstein said that the integrative institute is designed so students can take advantage of specialists to “focus on the whole person” and “optimize well-being.”

“A future of wellness demands that we promote approaches that keep our patients healthy, and when they are ill, that our providers work together so care is readily-accessible, cutting-edge, patient-focused and population-savvy,” he said.

UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 different degree programs. The integrated health complex, adjacent to the UCI Research Park, is expected to open in 2022.