IU School of Dentistry breaks ground for state-of-the-art, contemporary clinics

  • Sept. 23, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presided today over the groundbreaking ceremony for new state-of-the-art clinics at the IU School of Dentistry. The contemporary, $21.6 million building addition will provide 125 new patient treatment rooms for the state's only dental school, which is located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

At the groundbreaking, McRobbie announced that the clinical addition will be named the James J. Fritts, D.D.S. Clinical Care Center. Dr. James Fritts is a 1965 graduate of the dental school from Rochester, Indiana. Fritts and his family made a generous donation toward the new building.

"Dr. Fritts' extraordinarily generous gift reflects his desire to give back to the school that he feels gave so much to him," McRobbie said. "His gift is also a testament to his belief in the value of a quality dental education that gives students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, orients them to service to others, and instills in them the values and principles that will guide them in their careers and in their lives."

The new dental school clinical facilities align with the priorities of Indiana University's Bicentennial Strategic Plan and IUPUI's strategic plan to leverage its strengths in health and life sciences and promote health-related research, education and outreach. The 45,000-square-foot clinical space will advance the university's mission to offer exceptional teaching and learning, conduct groundbreaking research, and meet the oral health care needs of Hoosiers and people across the United States and around the world. Indiana University celebrates its bicentennial in 2020. In 2019, the IU School of Dentistry celebrates 140 years since its founding, and IUPUI celebrates 50 years as a campus.

"IU School of Dentistry's new clinical facility will be a robust addition to our urban health sciences campus and will contribute in countless ways to Hoosier health," IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar said. "This contemporary clinic at the dental school at IUPUI will raise the level of oral health care in our city and across the state by enhancing the comprehensive education the IU School of Dentistry provides."

Ratio Architects and SmithGroupJJR designed the new facility, which will house three floors of contemporary clinics with spacious patient registration and waiting areas. The architectural design blends the new, modern glass-and-steel building with the historic limestone façade on the north side of the original Michigan Street entrance. An enclosed courtyard will connect all four of the dental school's buildings on the ground level, and a suspended glass walkway will join the new building with the upper floors of the existing buildings, which were constructed in the 1930s, 1960s and 1970s.

This is the first significant addition to the dental school campus in 40 years, said Dr. John N. Williams, dean of the dental school.

"We are creating contemporary clinics for a 21st-century dental school," Williams said. "Today we are bridging the dental school's rich past with a bright future that includes modern clinical facilities that are light-filled, environmentally friendly and ideal for tomorrow's oral health care practitioner."

Messer Construction Co. is the contractor for the 45,000-square-foot clinical building. The company also built the IU School of Medicine Neuroscience Research Building as well as North Hall, IUPUI's newest residence hall. Construction is expected to be complete in December 2017.

The clinical building will be located on the site of the former patient parking lot adjacent to the east side of the dental school, bordering Michigan Street, Barnhill Drive and Vermont Street. During construction, patient parking has been moved to the west side of the dental school. When the new facility is complete, it is anticipated that patients will park in the Vermont Street garage.

In addition to the Fritts family gift, alumni and friends of the 137-year-old dental school contributed more than $3 million to the project. The remainder of the $21.6 million will be underwritten by dental school funds and new gifts to the IU Foundation through the For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

"In partnership with the university and our dedicated alumni and friends, a new clinical facility for the IU School of Dentistry will finally be achieved," Williams said. "Today's groundbreaking signifies our forward momentum as one of the best dental schools of the 21st century. We are looking forward to this next exciting chapter in our history."

Dr. John N. Williams, left; Dr. James Fritts, center; and IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

Dr. John N. Williams, left; Dr. James Fritts, center; and IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

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IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar; James T. Morris, IU Board of Trustees member; IU President Michael A. McRobbie; and MaryEllen Kiley Bishop, IU Board of Trustees member.

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar; James T. Morris, IU Board of Trustees member; IU President Michael A. McRobbie; and MaryEllen Kiley Bishop, IU Board of Trustees member.

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From left, front row: Lana Fritts, Dr. James Fritts, IU President Michael A. McRobbie, IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar and Dr. James N. Williams.

From left, front row: Lana Fritts, Dr. James Fritts, IU President Michael A. McRobbie, IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar and Dr. James N. Williams.

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Margie Smith-Simmons