The last steel beam, covered in flags, a small ceremonial tree and signatures scribbled with Sharpies, was hoisted into place during the “topping off” ceremony for the University of Arizona’s new Health Sciences Innovation Building on Friday afternoon.

The 220,000-square-foot $165 million building under construction is on the west side of the Arizona Health Sciences Campus, north of the Bio5 building off East Helen Street and North Cherry Avenue.

The nine-story facility is expected to open to students in summer 2018 and was designed to be a cutting-edge facility, said Provost Andrew Comrie.

“This building is to serve all four of the health colleges:” medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, said Angela Souza, senior director for planning and facilities for health sciences. “We want (the students) to be together because that’s how they’re going to work — in teams.”

Architects planned common areas for students in different disciplines to mingle and study.

Classrooms were designed to facilitate the “flipped classroom” approach to teaching, which prioritizes group work over lectures.

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“The key was to be flexible,” Souza said. “(The classrooms) can be rearranged depending on what an educator wants to accomplish.”

Also included in the design is a large forum for special events, as well as space for simulation and clinical skills where students can practice before tending to real patients.

“We are teaching in the settings we think they’re going to be in,” said Leigh A. Neumayer, interim senior vice president for health sciences. “We’re teaching for the future.”

Contact Mikayla Mace at or (520) 573-4158. On Twitter: @mikaylagram.