According to WhoLou sources Washington University will soon begin work on two projects at sites historically significant to the school. The university is expected to complete a $120 million field house expansion in three phases and a $10 million cyclotron project at the school of medicine.
Francis gymnasium was constructed in 1903 and an extensive addition, including a pool and additional facitilies were added in 1927. A major renovation in 1984 added many updated and amenities. The facility currently boasts more than 17,000 sq. ft. of floor space with seating for 3,000. Over the years it has hosted numerous memorable events.
The field house hosted presidential debates in 1992, 2000, and 2004. The facility was also scheduled to host a presidential debate in 1996 but President Bill Clinton, with a double-digit lead, declined the invitation. In 2008 the Washington University Field House hosted the lone vice presidential debate.
In 1968 the St. Louis Hawks played their final game in St. Louis at the field house due to a scheduling conflict with the Kiel Opera House. The Hawks beat the San Francisco Warriors 129-103 before a crowd of 4,118 in the NBA Western Division Semifinals Game 5. The Hawks would lose Game 6 and the series in San Francisco. Soon after the team was sold to a group from Atlanta for $3 million.
The Washington University Field House has also hosted speeches by former Presidents of the United States George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, and the 14th Dalai Lama have also spoken at the facility.
The project architect is Hastings+Chivetta of St. Louis. The firm has extensive experience in collegiate athletic facilities, including Lindenwood University, Temple and Colorado State. The project is being supported by a $12M gift from Washington University alumnus and trustee Gary Sumers and his wife, Rachel.
The cyclotron project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Construction is expected to cost between $5 and $6 million while the equipment purchase is expected to cost between $3 and $4 million.
A cyclotron is a machine used to produce the radioisotopes which are used to synthesize the substances, (radiopharmaceuticals), used to make the functional images of the body in nuclear medical imaging such as PET scans. Two medical cyclotrons are currently housed in a facility which occupies 2,000 square feet on the Washington University Medical School campus.
Washington University alum and longtime faculty member, Dr. Michel Ter-Pogossian, was the first to develop the Positron Emission Scanner which enables visualization of the brain’s metabolic activity, and certain deep-seated lesions, for example. Ter-Pogossian campaigned to get the first cyclotron used for medicine built at Washington University and is considered the “father of PET.”
Clayton-based Ottolino Winters Huebner is alleged to be architect and Ross & Baruzzini is also involved with the cyclotron project according to WhoLou sources. An attempt to reach Washington University project manager Michael Benoist for comment was unsuccessful.