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Otago Injects $22m Into Wellington Campus

Otago Injects $22m Into Wellington Campus

Medical school building expansion project creates new teaching and research space

The University of Otago is investing approximately $22 million in a building programme for the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, giving the region’s leading health education institution much needed teaching and research space.

The University Council decided to commit the funds to the Wellington building project at its most recent meeting in December.

“The University of Otago has had a long and proud association with the City of Wellington, offering clinical medical education in the capital since 1926,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg. “This significant investment in Otago’s Wellington campus not only builds on that tradition but ensures the future of the vital medical and health research and teaching being conducted by our Wellington staff and students.

“The quality of the work being done at the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences is outstanding. I am therefore delighted that our Wellington staff and students will soon get a building that will support and enhance the work they do.”

The new building initiative will add more than 1500 square metres to the school, upgrading and enlarging lecture and seminar rooms, adding research and study spaces, and extending the library, explained Professor John Nacey, Dean of the School.

“We are very happy that the University has made this commitment to improving the facilities on its Wellington campus. It clearly signals Otago’s intention to invest nationally in the health education of New Zealanders,” he says.

Prof Nacey pointed out that the School’s student numbers had doubled since the building was completed nearly 30 years ago. Space was now at a premium: “And we are projecting significant growth in the short and medium term future.”

The new buildings will also give the School a heightened visibility in the Capital.

“Despite being here since 1979, many people do not realise that the University of Otago has a clinical medical school in Wellington,” Prof Nacey says.

The construction plans by Athfield Architects include two “clip-on” structures to be attached to the existing academic block and reconfiguration of existing space on Levels C and D of the academic and adjoining block.

There will be a complete redesign and extension of the library and computing areas, new student support facilities, teaching and seminar rooms and communal areas.

Prof Nacey says the redevelopment presents substantial and enduring benefits for both the University of Otago and Capital Coast Health.

“On completion of our respective building programmes the Newtown campus will unquestionably become New Zealand’s foremost tertiary health and health education centre. It will boast premier health facilities, a world class research and learning environment, and the greatest number of undergraduate medical, radiation therapy and postgraduate students in any single campus in this country,” he says.

“The people of the Wellington region will finally have a tertiary teaching hospital with a campus of which they can be justifiably proud.”

Naylor Love was awarded the building contract. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-to-late March, and should be completed by early 2007. The $22 million price tag includes construction, design consulting, furniture, fittings, and insurance costs.

The Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences is internationally renowned for leading research on cancer, smoking, asthma, housing and health, and public health policies.

The Wellington Hospital has been a teaching hospital for senior University of Otago medical students since 1926. The current school buildings were built on the Newtown site by the University of Otago and the Wellington Hospital Board in 1979, since when Otago medical students have been able to receive their last three clinical training years in the capital. The School is also a major centre for post-graduate education in the health sciences.

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