They may be situated farther from central campus than their peers, but students to be housed in Yale’s two new residential colleges won’t find themselves calling the minibus to grapple with a common cold — or, for that matter, the aftereffects of a late-night romp.

On Monday, top University and city officials broke ground on the 138,000-square-foot, or 3.2-acre, campus for Yale University Health Services at its new home, 55 Lock St., at the foot of Science Hill and behind the Grove Street Cemetery. The plans, as well as the nature of the groundbreaking ceremony, were reminders of a town-gown relationship much-improved over the past decade and a half: In contrast to past years, there were no audible protests as Yale embarked on a Dixwell expansion project for this, the first time since the Yale Corporation approved the new colleges last month.

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“We’re better together,” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said, referring to improved town-gown interplay. “We stand on each other’s shoulders.”

At Monday’s 9:30 a.m. press conference, University President Richard Levin did not hesitate to offer a candid assessment of the current University Health Services building, better known to students as “DUH.” He said a new healthcare facility is badly needed. The current facility at 17 Hillhouse Ave., he said, is overcrowded and cramped, leading to lower standards of service.

To remedy this deficiency, a state-of-the-art center — which Levin said would be “an excellent addition to this part of Yale” — will be erected by winter 2009; it is expected to open by 2010. The facility will feature edgy, modern architecture as well as a 323-space parking garage and a Yale Security substation.

Levin said the hired design firm, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta, Ga., designed the building with “few right angles.” For renderings of the plan and further details, visit the firm’s online project abstract.

The new YUHS complex will house the not-for-profit and physician-led Yale Health Plan, which offers health care to members of the Yale community, whether students, faculty, administrators or employees; there are more than 33,000 members who stand to benefit from the new facility. And since the two new colleges are expected to allow for a 15-percent enrollment increase over time, the larger healthcare facility will be needed to keep up with the new influx of students, Levin said.

Aside from its close proximity to the new colleges, the new YUHS will also neighbor the Rose Center, the home as of January 2006 of the Yale Police Department. DeStefano said he hopes the healthcare facility will also have a “dramatically positive” effect on the surrounding community.

After YUHS moves, a new facility for the Faculty of Engineering will replace the existing “DUH” building on Hillhouse Ave. Click here for more details on that anticipated move.

Also spotted at the event were Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead; Michael Morand, the assistant vice president for New Haven and state affairs; and YUHS Director Paul Genecin.

“Pay no attention to these men over there,” Genecin jokingly admonished onlookers while he pointed to three construction workers literally breaking ground nearby. “This is the groundbreaking ceremony.”