New Cook DeVos Center Represents Future

January 9, 2004
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Not only did the erection of the 215,000-square-foot, $53 million Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences change the downtown skyline, it also changed health education in the region.

“It is sort of a fulfillment of a special mission for health care in our town,” said Richard DeVos, chairman of the Grand Valley State University Foundation. “This is the beginning of a whole new stage for the university and for all of us.”

But the five-story building, which is the catalyst for what’s often referred to as “Pill Hill,” isn’t just a prominent spot on the Michigan Street landscape. It’s also representative of what may be the future of health education.

Perhaps its most distinctive feature is that it has been designed to house all of GVSU’s health professions, from pre-natal to elderly care, under one roof — which signifies a major break from tradition. In the past, some career programs, such as nursing, have been segregated from the medical core in separate facilities.

“This building recognizes the continual aspect of providing care,” said James Moyer, GVSU director of facilities planning.

The Cook DeVos Center, which took 27 months to build, also significantly increased collaboration between GVSU and the health care industry in West Michigan, and it placed students and faculty amid greater opportunities for research and practical experience.

That’s why the center was one of the Business Journal’s top 10 finalists for Newsmaker of the Year. On Monday, the award went to DeVos Place.

The structure was designed with the learners in mind, because students in the health professions, like their counterparts in art and music, have a tendency to hang around their building for most of every class day.

“This building is a unique way to promote learning,” said Lisa Haynes, GVSU director of operations for the Pew Campus and regional centers.

The Cook DeVos Center houses 30 teaching and research labs, 10 classrooms, 10 seminar rooms, three computer-equipped classrooms, one distance learning center, 18 conference rooms, 15 student study areas, a magnificent library system, food service areas and lockers all strategically arranged on five floors for students’ convenience.

The students also will discover that much of the equipment they’ll be learning on is the same equipment they’ll eventually work with at area hospitals or health care facilities.

But GVSU students aren’t the only ones to benefit from this medical-teaching marvel, as businesses in the life sciences industry also will reap a reward.

The Grand Rapids SmartZone occupies much of the top floor, headed by Director Matt Dugener.

Businesses and students also will benefit from the 150-seat Hager Auditorium located on the first level. The auditorium has three video projectors, wireless Internet access and numerous electrical outlets for laptops.

Peter and Pat Cook and Richard and Helen DeVos lead a lengthy list of prominent contributors who made construction possible, including Leslie E. Tassell, Jim and Cindy Brooks, Jay and Betty Van Andel, and John H. and Nancy Batts.           

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