“This is a great day for the University,” said Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key, at the official opening of the magnificent new Medical and Health Sciences Campus at Grafton.
“It’s exciting to see that the next generation of young doctors, pharmacists, nurses and many other health professionals will be learning in the modern state-of-the-art facilities we have today.”
The official opening on 3 July marked the end of a massive four-year redevelopment and the beginning of a new era in New Zealand’s medical education and research.
The new complex represents a dramatic transformation of space, with the light and airy central atrium providing a vibrant heart for the campus from which all teaching and research spaces radiate. The design unites new and existing buildings and allows the co-location of four of the faculty’s five schools, along with the Liggins Institute. It also allows for an increased number of medical students, approved by the present government and its predecessor.
More than 7,000 square metres of new learning and teaching spaces have been created, with two new large lecture theatres, seating 250 and 300, and a Clinical Skills Centre, offering specialised facilities such as a model pharmacy and a dissection suite.
Dean of the Faculty, Professor John Fraser, gave warm recognition for the long-standing support of the Auckland Medical research Foundation, who sponsored the largest auditorium and the Learning Centre. He also acknowledged the enormous contribution of former Dean, Professor Iain Martin (now Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Strategic Engagement) and Director Property Services, Peter Fehl, who oversaw the redevelopment.
Teaching takes place on the ground floor and basement of the new complex, which allows for easy movement between classes for the students and for new thematic research laboratories on the upper floors. Each floor focuses on a different theme, such as neuroscience, infection and immunity, and pharmacy and pharmacology.
This creates a very different research environment from the laboratories of the past, which were traditionally divided into small spaces along departmental lines.
The new large open-plan laboratories link on either side with research support and writing spaces, a plan which fosters communications between researchers and helps build a collaborative research culture as well as allowing shared access to top-of-the-line equipment.
“Multi-disciplinary research will sit at the heart of future research and innovation,” says Iain Martin.
Says John Fraser: “I think this is as good as you’d find anywhere in the world. We’ve fused a high-quality teaching environment with a truly great research environment. Universities often achieve one or the other but seldom both.”