Med school adjusts to new digs on Congress



With construction on the medical school’s $176 million Congress Avenue Building finally complete, the daunting task of moving in begins.

The move-in, which has been occurring since January, is being coordinated by Freeman Enterprises, a consulting firm experienced with medical and laboratory facility relocations. Freeman Enterprises President Caroline Freeman Tunis said the firm must relocate approximately 200,000 pieces of equipment from 91 laboratories throughout the medical school campus into the building — a task that has been a considerable logistical challenge.

“It becomes a massively, massively detailed process,” she said. “What we strive for is perfection, and perfection takes a lot of work.”

When the move-in is complete, the building will provide state-of-the-art research facilities for approximately 700 medical researchers in its six-story south wing. The three-story north wing will include six teaching laboratories, an auditorium and six seminar rooms. The building will also house an animal resources center and a cutting-edge magnetic resonance research center.

Shellie Peck, a project manager for Freeman Enterprises, said the move-in has been running on schedule. Peck said 40 to 60 movers have been on-site continuously from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week since January.

“The goal has always been to keep this a seamless process,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that the researchers have as little downtime as possible.”

Peck said the move-in process will be substantially completed by late April or early May. Irwin Birnbaum, the medical school’s chief operating officer, said the building will be dedicated May 2.

The 457,000-square-foot Congress Avenue Building is a significant component of Yale University’s $500 million investment in the medical school. Birnbaum said the Congress Avenue Building will allow Yale medical school facilities to stand among the most advanced in the nation.

“In terms of our research mission, [the Congress Avenue Building] clearly puts us ahead,” he said. “We now have the state-of-the-art facilities to bring Yale into the 21st century.”

Birnbaum also said the Congress Avenue Building is the medical school’s largest facility and the University’s largest major construction project in 70 years. Birnbaum said the building would add 25 percent more space to the medical school’s laboratory facilities.

“Space is just such a critical component of the research and clinical activities at the medical school,” he said. “If you don’t have space, you can’t grow.”

Virginia Chapman, the director of project management and construction at the medical school, said the move into the Congress Avenue Building will vacate the most aging areas of the medical school, and immediately allow for extensive renovations on these areas to continue. Chapman, who has participated in the Congress Avenue Building project since its inception, said she is excited to finally see the building come into fruition.

“The building is not only alive, it is breathing and operating, and real live things are going on,” Chapman said. “To see it all there is very fulfilling.”

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