In the case of the newest addition to Weill Cornell Medical College, Maurice Greenberg, a member of the Medical College's Board of Overseers, and Sanford I. Weill, chairman of the Board of Overseers, put their stamp on the outside, as well as the inside, of the building.
"The real architects of this building are Sandy Weill and Hank Greenberg," said Medical College Dean Antonio Gotto. "We took to heart everything they said during their visits to the building regarding design and amenities. And their generosity and vision is what built this building."
The building in question is the just-completed Weill Greenberg Center, an ambulatory care and medical education building at Weill Cornell and the first newly constructed free-standing building in the history of the Medical College. The name was unveiled during a ceremony held in the center's lobby on Jan. 26.
Mr. Weill and Mr. Greenberg donated a combined $150 million to the Medical College's "Advancing the Clinical Mission" capital campaign, of which the ambulatory and medical education building is its centerpiece. With additional gifts, the building was financed entirely by philanthropy.
More than anything, the building is a pantheon to the notion of patient-centered care.
To deal with Manhattan's notorious parking problems, patients' cars are parked by valet in a garage beneath the building; once inside, patients glide past a 58-foot waterfall and a specially commissioned chandelier of more than 10,000 glass pieces as they ride an escalator to the Patient Welcome and Resource Center on the second floor. The spa-like environment is dotted with reflective pools and still-water images to promote the healing process and provide a sense of well-being. When the building is quiet, sounds of moving water can be heard throughout. A Best of 2006 Award of Merit for health-care centers and hospitals by New York Construction magazine cited the building's "elegant, innovative" design.
"As a cardiologist and a cardiac researcher, I've spent most of my life in medical facilities, and I can tell you that interactions in a center like this creates a higher level of professional patient care and a high level of personal growth," said Cornell University President David Skorton. "People are changed forever through their work in a center like this."
Peering through the glass walls of the lobby, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was happy to be inside avoiding the morning's freezing temperatures. "I'm glad they had the good sense to hold this event indoors," Bloomberg said. "Another smart medical decision by the doctors at Weill Cornell."
In addition to clinical care, the 13-story Weill Greenberg Center will also house medical education and research facilities. In particular, the Clinical Skills Center will provide students with a state-of-the-art facility to practice clinical skills on standardized "actor" patients.
"Before this, we practiced diagnosing patients in a regular exam room and the actor patients reported back to the doctors. In the new center, doctors will be able to observe us as we work, which is a real opportunity," said Ankit Patel, a student at the Medical College.
The Weill Greenberg Center will also symbolize Cornell University's presence in New York City.
"We've dedicated a lot of buildings, but I have a real sense that we're witnessing history for Cornell University," said Dr. Skorton. "This building will be a flagship—people throughout the region will come here for medical care and the College's students will carry their medical skills to every region of globe."
Photography by Amelia Panico.