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Dig It! The Altman CTRI Building Project Moves Ahead


Gary Firestein (left), MD, CTRI Director, Professor of Medicine, Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine, tours the construction site for the Altman CTRI Building with Bruce Craig, senior construction superintendent for Rudolph and Sletten, Inc.

July 18, 2013 - With each shovelful of dirt, the dream of a seven-story, steel-and-concrete Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) Building takes shape. And the vision to speed the delivery of treatments and cures to patients moves closer to reality.

Translational medicine is the future of health care, and the Altman CTRI Building serves as a bridge between UC San Diego's clinical and research enterprises. "This building will create a unique, multidisciplinary environment that brings together laboratory scientists and clinical investigators to understand disease, develop new methods of treatment and translate clinical research results into clinical practice," said Gary S. Firestein, MD, CTRI Director, Professor of Medicine, Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine.

Dr. Firestein recently toured the construction site for the building, named in recognition of a leadership gift from Lisa and Steve Altman. "Since our groundbreaking ceremony in January, the construction is progressing on this exciting new facility that will become CTRI's future home," he said.

The $269 million building, which will encompass 350,000 gross square feet, is on track for completion in 2016, along with the Jacobs Medical Center. Both are being constructed on the medical campus of UC San Diego in La Jolla and are part of the University's vision to build a bright and innovative Future of Care.

"We're moving along extremely well," said Michael Downs, UC San Diego principal architect and project manager for the Altman CTRI Building. "We are in the middle of grading the hillside and installing the retaining wall." To make way for the Altman, workers are moving dirt from the hillside to the east campus recreational area site north of the parking structure. Once the retaining wall is installed, the construction crew will lay the concrete foundation, by this fall if all goes according to schedule.

"Three levels are below Medical Center Drive, and those walls and floors will be concrete," said Downs. He explained that many of the "wet" research laboratories will be housed in the floors below street level since concrete floors will guard against vibrations that may adversely affect sensitive scientific equipment.

The Altman building also will include a sophisticated mechanical system that Downs described as ultra-energy efficient. "It will be almost a net zero in terms of energy consumption," he said. "This building really has gone the extra mile in terms of components." About 500 individual systems, such as lighting and air conditioning control systems, as well as the selection of environmentally "green" materials, will contribute to the building's sustainability.

Following the completion of the three concrete lower levels, steel will be erected for the top four floors, including a state-of-the-art clinic for clinical trials and other human subject research. When the building with research laboratories and clinical research space opens, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians – from physicians, biologists and engineers to computational scientists, geneticists and others – will be forged under one roof to tackle the challenges of finding solutions to disease.

About UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute:

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) is part of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium, led by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Established in 2010, ACTRI provides infrastructure and support for basic, translational and clinical research throughout the San Diego region to bring discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, and facilitates training and education of the next generation of researchers. ACTRI carries out its activities in collaboration with institutional and corporate partners and currently has more than 1,500 members.