Photo courtesy TTUHSC El Paso
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso officially opened its newest building, Medical Sciences Building II, Wednesday evening.
The new building houses research laboratory space, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s Dental Learning Center, state-of-the-art classrooms and an entire floor devoted to student services.
Construction on MSB II was completed in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday’s event was the first to welcome the El Paso community for tours and to experience simulation stations used by TTUHSC El Paso students.
MSB II was built by Sundt Construction at a cost of $83 million through a Texas tuition revenue bond. At five stories and 219, 900 square feet, it doubles the university’s research capacity and adds crucial instructional space to support its growing student population.
TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., said the university’s goal was to use as many local vendors as possible to make the vision of MSB II a reality. That held true with many in attendance at the event.
“This building is everything we hoped it would be,” said Dr. Lange. “Now that students are here, it’s come alive, bringing together our multidisciplinary classes and helping to integrate our research teams. With the student services floor, the library, and soon, food vendors, it’s already become the heart of our campus.”
The building’s second, third and fourth floors are dedicated to research, including laboratories, offices, and space for research administration. The first floor houses the campus’ largest teaching auditorium — a 9,200-square-foot space that can accommodate up to 500 people — and features the latest audio-visual capabilities. The remaining areas are dedicated to a library, a reflection room for quiet space, classrooms, student study rooms and support services.
The capacity of the new building will spur advanced research by providing facilities that allow for expansion and interdisciplinary programs addressing major diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, which are prevalent in the Borderland. It will help attract world-class faculty, engage students in the research process, and help lead the way to improve patient treatments and outcomes.
In keeping with the beauty of the TTUHSC El Paso campus, a public art installation was selected by a committee of local community members to line the walkway that connects MSB II and Rick Francis Street. The installation, “Between Earth and Sky” by artist Thomas Sayre, was designed with Southwest terrain in mind, and incorporates medical aspects to each piece that propels with the wind.
During the long-anticipated event, guests enjoyed seeing firsthand the newest addition of state-of-the-art facilities that contribute to a competitive Borderplex region.
Honoring a community leader
In a surprise announcement during the grand opening, the naming of a study room in honor of El Paso leader and businessman, Ted Houghton, was unveiled. Houghton was an early visionary in plans to create a bustling health sciences center in the Paso del Norte region.
Along with fellow community leaders, Houghton has been instrumental in growing a vibrant, stand-alone TTUHSC El Paso campus within the Texas Tech University System. His contributions span nearly two decades after becoming the first El Pasoan to serve on the Texas Transportation Commission in 2003 and being named chair in 2011. His tenure on the commission brought essential transportation infrastructure that directly serves the TTUHSC El Paso campus, including branded monument signage along Interstate 10 that welcomes the community to the university.
Houghton was named El Pasoan of the Year in 2011 for his contributions in leading and advocating for over half a billion dollars in transportation projects, along with his commitment to growing economic development for the region.
Houghton is a fourth-generation El Pasoan and owns his own business, Houghton Financial Partners. He is known for his humility and dedication to his family, all who were honored by the naming.
“To be surprised with the honor of a permanent naming in the newest medical sciences building on the bustling TTUHSC El Paso campus was truly a joy. We began advocating for a four-year medical school in 2001, and here we are today with four schools,” Houghton said. “I have eight of my grandchildren here this evening, and they’re part of the reason we do this – it’s for the next generation to have opportunities.”
Grand opening festivities included tours led by TTUHSC El Paso students and campus leadership, giving community members a long-awaited look at TTUHSC El Paso’s latest contribution to the growing Medical Center of the Americas.