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TCU med school design blends in with Near Southside neighbors

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Construction is underway for a traditional four-story, yellow-brick and red-roof home of the TCU Anne Marion Burnett School of Medicine, scheduled to open in 2024.

Construction is underway for a traditional four-story, yellow-brick and red-roof home of the TCU Anne Marion Burnett School of Medicine, scheduled to open in 2024.

TCU is bringing its signature style and ambitions to become a medical education powerhouse to the Medical District.

Construction is underway for a traditional four-story, yellow-brick and red-roof home of the TCU Anne Marion Burnett School of Medicine, scheduled to open in 2024.

The medical school was founded with the University of North Texas Health Science Center and housed on their campus. They dissolved the partnership earlier this year. According to TCU, the plan was to eventually have a campus in the Medical District even before the dissolution.

It operates at the International Plaza in southwest Fort Worth.

The design by Hoefer Welker Architects and Los Angeles-based CO Architects reflects TCU’s main campus’ neo-classical style and respects the neighborhood’s architecture, said Todd Waldvogel, assistant vice chancellor for planning, design and construction.

“The design harkens back to the TCU campus but conforms to the scale and dynamism of the Near Southside,” he said.

That includes maintaining historic district requirements that new buildings adhere to strict conditions.

“The design standards of the Near Southside are quite prescriptive, from the percentage of glazing, to the height of the building, to the slope and materials of the roof,” Waldvogel said.

While builders may apply for waivers from the restrictions, Waldvogel said they wanted to be good neighbors and complement the district. Design standards maintain the integrity of a historic neighborhood, especially in one expanding as fast as the Near Southside.

They worked with neighborhood stakeholders to adhere to as many requirements as possible. The goal was to bring the TCU brand to the district while meeting the district’s standards, said Jason Soileau, assistant vice chancellor for planning, design and construction at TCU.

That included when closing a portion of Adams to connect the campus.

“As we [closed] Adams Street, the community was concerned we’d disrupt the existing north-south pedestrian movement,” Waldvogel said. A portico “protects opportunities for north-south pedestrian movement even with potential future development” behind and around the structure with a goal of a five-acre campus.”

The district spans architectural styles, from the suburban-chic two-story CVS on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Rosedale Street to the Georgian-style Thistle Hill mansion from the 1800s on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Planting the medical school campus adds TCU’s traditional style to the diverse district.

TCU’s architectural style is about subtlety. In this case, the so-called eyebrows on the medical school’s roof are that accent. But are also practical.

“It’s purely to cover mechanical management,” Soileau said. “The irony is when under the roof, you can’t even see what color it is.”

CO Architects has an extensive and award-winning educational and healthcare portfolio, especially in the life and biomedical sciences.

Among those are the Health Sciences Education Building and Biomedical Sciences Partnership Buildings, affiliated with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. With the desert as its inspiration, the ten-story facility features a copper façade and carved indentions designed to take the scorching Arizona heat. It won numerous awards in the health care category, including from the Architect’s Newspaper in 2018.

Another project, the seven-story Columbia University School of Nursing, is wrapped in glass and has large open spaces emphasizing communication and collaboration. At its center is a large, two-story technologically enhanced simulation center.

Nicholas Garrison with project collaborator FXCollaborative, a design firm, called the building a “lantern” and campus anchor.

Scott Kelsey, Managing Principal at CO, described is as an example of the “New American Medical School.”

That was the concept in mind for UNTHCs five-story 170,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, which opened in 2019. That’s the model TCU hopes to replicate with the new buildings, the first of more on the site for research and development .

Like that building, the most exciting features aren’t the exterior but what’s inside. “With the concept of the ’empathetic scholar,’ we’re integrating different types of spaces emphasizing interpersonal development. We’re also focusing on integrating technology into medical education,” said Soileau.

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