New building in $140m health sciences proposal

Stephen Willis
Stephen Willis
The University of Otago is considering pumping nearly $140 million into the redevelopment of its Dunedin health sciences precinct.

An estimated $138,661,000 cost includes a proposed new building and refurbishments to address constraints on teaching and research.

A document presented to the University Council this week assigned the figure to a project labelled "Health Sciences Building One". However, the university said both the title and cost were "placeholders".

Asked about the figure, chief operating officer Stephen Willis said it was to "map the future" of the university’s Dunedin health sciences precinct.

Health sciences is now spread over several buildings at the campus.

The master plan included a proposal for a new building, although it was "in early stages and subject to the usual university approvals process".

The health science precinct was short of optimal space for teaching, research, informal collaboration and shared learning spaces, he said.

"A number of the health sciences buildings are older buildings, and refurbishment of older buildings is a usual asset management response."

The project’s business case is expected to be approved in November next year, and the project completed by May 2024.

Health sciences pro-vice-chancellor Prof Paul Brunton said the process was necessary because of constraints on teaching and research, outdated facilities and inefficient use of space.

"To maintain success, the university must keep pace with changes in the health, research and education sectors."

The location, size, cost and timing of any new building as a result of the master planning was unknown.

When complete next year, the master plan will outline how the university uses the space.

Staff would also create a more detailed "vision" for the precinct and how the university fits with the new hospital and other health and education providers, Mr Willis said.

"The vision is likely to include investment in the heritage buildings and could involve some refurbishment and seismic strengthening."

The planning would involve consultation with academic and professional staff, as well as external stakeholder groups.

The university created plans for its precincts in 2010 through its campus master plan.

It now said its health sciences and sciences precincts needed to be reconsidered because of the hospital redevelopment, the unlikelihood of a reconfiguration of the state highway S-bends, a new city plan and refined strategic directions.

The 14 major university projects associated with the health sciences would cost $500 million.

This included projects such as the Dentistry Clinical Services Building and its $150 million building project in Christchurch.



Looks like a lot of money for all these projects. WillI the banks lend it? I wonder if there are any contingency plans if interest rates go back up to historic averages?

A lot of money for buildings, but not for academic staff. A big new multimillion dollar music facility is being built, at the same time as the number of music papers being offered to students is steadily falling. Odd priorities for something that is supposed to be a learning institution.

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