Wayne State University Biomedical Research Building To Be Built For $93 Million In Midtown Detroit

A historic building designed by Albert Kahn will get a 21st-century revamp when Wayne State University turns it into a $93 million biomedical research facility.

The Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Facility project on Cass Avenue in midtown Detroit is supported in-part by $30 million of state funding written into Gov. Rick Snyder's budget for fiscal year 2013, according to Crain's Detroit Business. The university expects to break ground this year and open the building for business in 2015.

"[We're] capitalizing on the resources we have here," WSU President Allan Gilmour explained. He said the facility's location makes it ripe for collaboration -- Henry Ford Health System has already joined up with WSU, and the university's proximity to Detroit Medical Center and TechTown, where biotech goes commercial, could also lead to partnerships.

The School of Medicine, College of Engineering and math and economics departments are expected to get heavy use out of the facility, according to Crain's, and WSU expects to expand its faculty by more than 20 professors.

Gilmour said the facility will be geared toward graduate student use, rather than undergrads. "But we're doing our best to have undergraduates involved in research at Wayne State in general," he added.

WSU expects the research facility to hold appeal for prospective students and give the school a leg up for federal and pharmaceutical industry funding.

The shiny new structure will keep one foot planted in the past, however. Gilmour said the university would maintain the historic building, praising its high-quality construction. "Wind doesn't blow these places over," he said.

The building held the Dalgleish Cadillac dealership until 2009, when General Motors decided to close it, along with 1,000 other dealerships nationwide. WSU bought it for $1 million and originally intended it to be part of the TechTown complex.

Southfield architect firm Harley Ellis Devereaux Corp. won the bid for the new project, and according to Gilmour planners are aiming for silver LEED certification, a "green" building designation. The construction will start with the demolition of the nearby American Beauty Iron building, where a parking lot will be located, and will also include a new addition to the original building.