Work continues on new UNLV medical school building, set to open next year


Steve Marcus

Loay Hanthel, senior construction manager with M.J. Dean Construction, walks in front of the Medical Education Building (MEB), the first building of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, under construction at 625 Shadow Lane Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021 (8:30 p.m.)

UNLV’s new medical school building is on track to open in fall 2022.

The 9-acre headquarters for the young Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, which graduated its first class of doctors this spring, is buzzing with construction activity, and school officials are already planning their move. When completed, the 135,000-square-foot facility will get medical students out of shared space with dental students elsewhere on the Shadow Lane campus and give the med school enough space to admit classes of 120 students at a time, doubling its current capacity.

A “topping off” ceremony this week celebrates the final pour of concrete. After capping off the final patch of exposed rebar — on the elevator shaft, where it emerges on the roof — “the technical part begins,” said Maureen Schafer, president and chief executive of Nevada Health & Bioscience Corp., the company overseeing the building’s development.

Classrooms, labs, digital libraries and study spaces will be on four of the five floors. Anatomy labs will be both virtual, on something like giant tablet computers, and traditional, on cadavers. Simulated hospital and exam rooms will offer convincing hands-on training. 

Faculty and advisers will occupy the fifth floor, where the views stretch beyond the rooftops of University Medical Center, Valley Hospital and the rest of the Las Vegas Medical District to take in mountain and Strip vistas.

“It’s a terrific space,” Schafer said.

The skeletal structure now in place consists of about 14,000 cubic yards of concrete, 1,850 tons of rebar and 13 miles of cable reinforcing the concrete slabs, said senior project manager Loay Hanthel. For a visual, that’s more than four Olympic-sized swimming pools of concrete, the weight of 370 African elephants in rebar and the length of 650 blue whales in cable.

Workers broke ground in October. The project is being funded by more than $150 million from private donors and $25 million from the state.

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.

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