The UT Health Science Center San Antonio and its general construction partner, J.T. Vaughn Construction LLC, held a tree-topping ceremony Feb. 13. The ceremony was held to celebrate completion of the structure for the Dental School’s Center for Oral Health Care & Research. The four-story building will provide patient-centered care for the public and state-of-the-art education for dental students, residents and dental hygiene students. It also will offer two floors of specialty practice space for Dental School faculty members and the potential for expanded dental research.
William Dodge, D.D.S., dean of the Dental School, said “Everything, from the materials used, the natural lighting, the flexibility of the interior space and the open courtyard design, will make this an attractive building where patients will want to receive care and where we will be able to offer a top-notch education for our students and residents.”
He praised the teamwork involved in creating the new building, from the contributions of the faculty team “who has worked for months and months to match what we need with the creative work of our general contractor and architects, to the work of each individual construction worker.
“We share something in common,” Dr. Dodge said to the construction employees. “We both do things with our hands and see the fruits of our labor to make things better and improve people’s lives.”
Close to Medical Arts & Research Center
The construction is now more than one-third complete and the oral health center is on track to be finished by mid-2015, as scheduled. It is located at 8210 Floyd Curl Drive next to the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), the clinical home of the School of Medicine’s faculty practice.
“It is no accident that our new dental clinic building is being built next to the MARC,” said Health Science Center President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP. “This will help foster collaboration between medical and dental clinicians, educators and researchers.”
Design focuses on convenience
During an interview at the tree topping, Gary Guest, D.D.S., interim associate dean for patient care at the Dental School, said the biggest changes the new oral health center will bring are in patient care and dental education.
“I’ve been at the school since I was a student here in the 1970s,” Dr. Guest said. “At that time everything was dedicated to predoctoral education. Since then we’ve added education in every dental specialty, but we’ve been limited by the current facility. It was a good building then, but now we can take advantage of this new space to group things together more intuitively and improve not only the patient experience, but also the academic experience for our students and residents.”
Related clinics and administrative spaces will be located near each other, making it more convenient for patients. And there will be small conference rooms located near student and resident clinics to facilitate learning. Each dental operatory will have a computer and the latest technology to enhance learning and facilitate the use of electronic dental records, he said. There are more than 400 dental chairs, bringing the potential to grow the both the practice plan and predoctoral programs, Dr. Guest said.
The building has:
- 198,000 gross square feet;
- a four-story, 541-space parking garage;
- a covered drop-off area just steps from the building; and
- a 170-space surface parking lot nearby.
“And that’s not even saying anything about the beautiful architecture of the building,” Dr. Guest said. The building features clean lines, a courtyard opening onto Floyd Curl Drive and plenty of natural light.
The first two floors will be devoted to the faculty practice in various specialties, advanced education for residents and dental research. The third and fourth floors will be used for general dentistry, including clinical training for third- and fourth-year dental students and dental hygiene students.
The majority of teaching for first- and second-year dental students will remain in the current Dental School building on the Long Campus, where simulated learning is available.
Marmon Mok and Kahler/Slater Joint Venture are the project architects.
Tree-topping Event Photos