Ceremony Honors New Lurie Research Center
Weathering the brisk morning air on December 18, Feinberg School students and faculty and staff members joined Northwestern dignitaries and donors to participate in the “topping out” of the new Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University.
In one of the construction industry’s oldest traditions, a ceremonial beam, along with a tree and an American flag, were lifted to the highest point of the research center’s steel structure. The tree symbolizes strength, life, and renewal, while the flag siginifies that the structure was built with pride and dignity. Accompanying the tree and flag were a Northwestern University flag and a bouquet of white roses placed in memory of the building’s namesake.
The completion of the steel structure will be followed by several months’ work to finish the shell of the building. The building is expected to be completed in late 2004, with initial occupancy in early 2005. Costing $200 million, the 12-story structure will add more than 400,000 gross square feet of space.
Remarked Dean Landsberg, “We would not be reaching this milestone in the construction of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University without the significant help of our donor partners: Ann Lurie, Patrick and Shirley Ryan, the Avon Foundation, the Drucker Foundation, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Ellie Baldwin, the Hughes Family Foundation, the State of Illinois, the Department of Defense, and many others.”
Dean Landsberg presented Ann Lurie with a bouquet of white roses, keeping alive her husband’s philosophy of “taking time to smell the roses.” Shared the benefactress with a smile, “My late husband was an engineer, and he would have made himself an enormous pest here if he were still with us. He would be hanging around asking the construction crew questions about all the details of their work. Bob was enthralled with the process of starting with an empty piece of land and somehow ending up with a structure like this.
“All of us involved with the genesis of this project can hardly wait until it’s finished,” she added. “I give my heartfelt thanks to each and every person involved in the construction of the building, even those with small tasks, because we know that all the parts are important. I salute you for getting us to this point.”
Additional speakers included University President Henry Bienen and Gary Mecklenburg, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. Noted Bienen, “This building will allow us to bring in more than 100 new researchers to work in areas such as cancer, infectious diseases, and neurological diseases. We’ll be able to move forward in a way that we couldn’t have dreamt of without the support of our many friends. We are deeply grateful.”
“This project is especially gratifying because it continues the progress that this entire campus has made to be a leader in the American medical community,” remarked Mecklenburg. “With this addition…by the end of the decade we’ll have an unparalleled medical center, and Northwestern Memorial is very proud to be part of that.”
Dean Landsberg accepted a check representing the estate of Christine Querfeld, saying “We are honored to accept Ms. Querfeld’s gift that will establish the Christine Querfeld Research Team in Ophthalmology. This team will be conducting research in the Lurie Center.”
He also acknowledged architecture firm Davis, Brody, Bond; Turner Construction; and AMEC Construction Management, among others.
As the “topping out” beam was hoisted to the pinnacle of the steel structure, it displayed not only the tree, flags, and flowers, but also the names and good wishes of numerous Feinberg School students and faculty and staff members who had the opportunity to sign it earlier that morning.