Las Vegas Sun

June 20, 2021

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At site of future UNLV med school building, a spirited pace of construction

Construction on UNLV's Medical Education Building

Steve Marcus

A view at the construction site of the UNLV School of Medicine’s first permanent building, the Medical Education Building, 625 Shadow Lane, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.

Construction on UNLV's Medical Education Building

A view of the construction site of the UNLV School of Medicine's first permanent building, the Medical Education Building (MEB), 625 Shadow Lane, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Launch slideshow »

Three months after breaking ground, the future UNLV School of Medicine building is beginning to take shape.

Rebar and elevator shafts on the ground floor reach up like shoots on the 9-acre site in the Las Vegas Medical District, within walking distance of University Medical Center and Valley Hospital. In about a month, the structure will have its second floor.

If all goes according to plan, the five-story, 128,000-square-foot building will be complete by summer 2022.

Construction is moving ahead with the recommitment of $25 million in state funding, which Gov. Steve Sisolak swept last year as the temporary casino shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic slammed state coffers. Sisolak announced his reinstatement of the funding earlier this month during his State of the State address.

Maureen Schafer, president and chief executive of Nevada Health & Bioscience Corp., the company overseeing the building’s development, said she was grateful for the prompt funding return.

“We didn't think it would come back this fast,” she said.

Keeping a steady clip has characterized the project since it broke ground last fall.

Three previous attempts to begin construction on the building, developed by the Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor’s Office and UNLV administrators, fell through amid tensions between the UNLV donor community and NSHE. But once shovels hit dirt in October, they were months ahead of current schedule.

Construction is now a couple of weeks ahead, this week’s wet weather notwithstanding, Schafer said. Standing near what will be the building’s loading dock Tuesday — a rare day without construction crews on site because of the morning’s rain and snow — Schafer described a state-of-the-art facility designed for the young program’s practical problem-based curriculum.

The school currently operates primarily on UNLV’s Shadow Ridge campus, sharing space with the dental school since the med school welcomed its first students in 2017. Having a dedicated home will allow the program to double its incoming classes from 60 to 120 students and offer them such amenities as a virtual anatomy lab.

The building is facilitated through the creation of Nevada Health and Bioscience Asset Corp., a nonprofit development agency established by private donors with plans to build the structure and then lease it to the university for $1 per year.

The now-reinstated $25 million will supplement up to $150 million raised from donors. The state contribution is statutorily required to be spent last.