Just last month on June 18, D’Youville College in partnership with CannonDesign celebrated the historic grand opening of its new Health Professions Hub in west Buffalo, New York. The grand opening was celebrated publicly with local officials, students, members of the community, and local artists. As a “first-of-its-kind” project, the Health Hub, designed for community outreach and development, offers a number of new technological, academic, and healthcare resources to the D’Youville community and beyond. Most important to the integrity of the project is its community outreach and impact.
CannonDesign collaborated with the college and several local nonprofits to not overlook the integrity of the neighborhood surrounding the project, and instead, challenged themselves to provide a hub for hospitable public space and private educational resources.
Featured in the 57,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is The Sisters Health Center at D’Youville primary care clinic, operated by Catholic Health; a health and wellness center featuring chiropractic services; a full-service pharmacy; full-service educational simulation center; The Center for Health Equity and Innovation for health professions education; The Pathways Program; an event center, and community engagement spaces with meeting rooms, workspaces, classrooms, a kitchen, and a cafe.
The striking design of the Health Hub matches the sentiment of its program capabilities. Outside of the healthcare areas is a street-level art gallery designed in collaboration with curator Aaron Ott of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and a three-story open atrium that can be seen from the street. The inviting nature of the building rests heavily on the outward invitation of transparent glass, street-facing elements, and public art.
With an expected regional shortage of healthcare professionals forthcoming, (more than 10,000 expected by 2024) the completion of the Health Hub intends to provide the resources necessary to lessen the healthcare gap and its blow on Buffalo. Because of the weight of the initiative, construction of the Health Hub was deemed an essential healthcare project and was permitted to continue during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, outside of the “New York on Pause” Executive Order, allowing for a timely completion this year.
West Buffalo is home to one-third of immigrants in the surrounding Buffalo-Niagara region overall. In 2019, the city resettled 488 refugees. The critical problem facing the West Side community is a lack of resources for residents in a place where high poverty rates, affordable healthcare, and food insecurity weigh heavily. The D’Youville College Health Professions Hub will be the first building to create paths of accessibility for healthcare, career building, education, and community engagement all in one space.
In an earlier interview with AN, CannonDesign principal Michael Tunkey explained that “The idea of creating a very transparent building that the community can literally see themselves in, and have it feel like a warm and inviting place to go—that was the biggest challenge[…] The design relies on glass, public art, and street-facing components to make the exterior porous with Buffalo’s West Side[…] Inherently, you want to ensure resources of that significance are highly visible, accessible, and engaging.”
Programming that intermingles design and outreach programming shows that the Health Hub not just as a resource for medicine, but also as a center-point for community connectivity. Decorated along the interior of the Hub are works created by local artists, including from the nonprofit Stitch Buffalo which focuses on economic development and growth of refugee women, further connecting the identity of the neighborhood with the goals set by the programs offered at the Hub.
The promise of the project is grounded in assistance and opportunity building through service. It is expected that with the opening of the Health Hub there will be growth in residents employed as healthcare professionals and support a living wage for the residents of western Buffalo. This fall will mark the first full semester back on campus for D’Youvile students after COVID-19 and will jumpstart the Health Hub in full effect, bringing this new environment of accessibility to life.