HDR Project Wins Downtown NJ Gold Award

(December 13, 2013) - HDR is thrilled to announce that the Cooper Medical School at Rowan University in Camden, NJ has received a Downtown NJ Gold Award. The award was presented at Downtown New Jersey Excellence Awards dinner on December 2, 2013 at 5:30 PM at The Heldrich Center in New Brunswick, NJ. Downtown New Jersey is non-profit corporation comprised of individuals, business leaders, government and non-profit representatives dedicated to ensuring the vitality of our downtowns. Each year Downtown New Jersey recognizes New Jersey's best downtown projects and programs

This Cooper Medical School at Rowan University—designed out of HDR's Princeton office—is a critical component to establishing a new medical college in Camden and a huge step towards the revitalization of this once formidable city and thriving center of manufacturing and industry. After the manufacturing boom of World War II, entire industries were shut down in cities across the country, but Camden was particularly hard hit. "Camden was particularly vulnerable," said Paul Jargowsky, director of the Center for Urban Research and Education at Rutgers University. "There really was nothing else other than Campbell Soup and the shipyards and RCA Victor." 

The development of the Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, the first new medical school in New Jersey in over thirty years, is expected to catalyze a change. It is clear that poverty and crime go hand-in-hand, along with mental health issues, and poor access to healthcare. Healthcare is at the base of revitalizing Camden—delivering new and better jobs to Camden's residents, improved general and mental healthcare, and better schools. In addition to a physical change—including new construction projects and infrastructure renovations—the change is psychological. With better healthcare available, and an esteemed medical school located there, Camden residents can begin to believe that change is possible, and strive for a better life. The medical school's outreach programs include "getting out the message" about better health, better nutrition, and better education. Not only does the school's mission address immediate concerns of the community—providing humanistic education in medicine, excellence in patient-care, and a commitment to civic responsibility--medical schools typically generate approximately $3 in economic activity for every $1 spent. The new medical school is expected to benefit the region by $50,000,000 over the next five years.

Built on a remediated brownfield site, the Cooper Medical School at Rowan University employs an innovative sustainable design strategy. Sustainable features include a 5,000 square-foot green roof to manage stormwater run-off, heat-recovery units, low-E glass and building materials, along with horizontal sunscreens, and energy-efficient, controlled lighting. The facility achieves 35% energy savings compared to the ASHRAE baseline model, and 26% energy costs savings. The design received LEED Innovative Design credits for recycled content and regional materials, and achieved LEED Gold certification.

Cooper Medical School's six-story, 200,000 square-foot building cost $139 million and brought ̶ and continues to bring ̶ hundreds of jobs to the region. The inaugural class consists of 50 students, and will eventually grow to 100 students, with 400 students in total. They will be trained by more than 450 clinical staff from Cooper University Hospital, and the medical school's own biomedical faculty.  The school will also address the shortage of physicians in New Jersey, currently ranked 33rd in medical school graduates per capita. A radically new curriculum was developed for the new school, with input from health professionals from Cooper Hospital. The program's innovative curriculum weaves together technologies for virtual teaching as well as hands-on learning.

The school is also designed to enhance community outreach, and generate interest in careers in healthcare. From the start, professional firms responsible for design and construction hired local interns through Camden County's "Shadow Program." The school itself also has programs to encourage local high school students, and even younger students, to pursue careers in medicine. Furthermore, students at the school are required to engage in community service as part of the curriculum.

The President of Rowan University, Dr. Ali Houshmand, has big plans for the next decade. He's working to increase Rowan's campus to 25,000 students, improve diversity, quadruple research funding to $100 million annually, increase Rowan's endowment to $500 million, expand academic offerings (including in medicine) and increase Rowan's operating budget to $1 billion, "a move that would significantly impact the state's economy." The Cooper Medical School is an important component of this ambitious plan