Duquesne University wants to demolish the Life’s Work building on its Uptown campus this summer to begin building its College of Osteopathic Medicine next spring.

On January 12, the university got approval from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission for the demolition of the building at 1323 Forbes Ave., which it acquired in 2019 for the land. Once the new building is constructed, its investment in the site will exceed $53.6 million.

In their presentation to the Planning Commission yesterday, the university said that demolition of the Life’s Work building work would begin in June. Crews have been doing interior abatement for several months. Construction of the new building would start in March 2022. SLAM Collaborative is designing the building in collaboration with WTW Architects.

“We plan to receive our Certificate of Occupancy in October 2023,” the university explains in its presentation. “The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) requires we have the C of O [a] minimum six months prior.”

The new building’s design includes an entrance plaza along Forbes to “enhance the urban experience” between the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Cooper Field House across the street, the university says. Floors above the entrance lobby will be recessed to enable views.

If the timeline holds, the accreditation commission’s final site visit review would be in December 2023 and student use of the building would begin in April 2024. Duquesne has held meetings about the project with faculty and staff, Uptown Partners, city planners and the Hill CDC.

The university introduced its idea for a College of Osteopathic Medicine in its Strategic Plan 2018-2023. It hired the Tripp Umbach consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study before deciding to seek accreditation.

“This major leap forward for Duquesne, Pittsburgh and our region is a bold move that recognizes how health care requires new kinds of practitioners,” Duquesne President Ken Gormley said in announcing the school. He noted that Duquesne has “broad strengths in elements connected to integrative health,” such as pharmacy, nursing, the natural sciences and health sciences.

The osteopathic medical school will be Pittsburgh’s second medical school and the first Catholic osteopathic medical school in Pennsylvania. Duquesne has said it plans to recruit an initial class of 75 and to grow that enrollment to an eventual 600 students. Doctors of osteopathic medicine typically become family doctors or general practitioners.

Dr. John M. Kauffman Jr., D.O., joined Duquesne last January as the school’s founding dean to oversee faculty recruitment, design of curriculum, construction of the instruction space and student recruitment.

To be accredited, the school must demonstrate it can attract students and graduate them with viable degrees.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.