ANN ARBOR, MI-The University of Michigan’s board of regents has given the green light for the architectural designs of a $121-million expansion of the university’s Kellogg Eye Center. The new, eight-story, 220,000-sf building will nearly double the university’s current space for eye care, education and research.

The addition is scheduled to open in 2010. The Parkview and Turner buildings, which currently house all eye clinics, will be demolished once the expansion is complete. The new center, according to a university statement, will make Kellogg “the largest and most comprehensive eye center in the Midwest.”

TSA of Massachusetts is the architect. A full wall of glass panels on the building façade will provide natural light to clinics and common space. The building will connect with Riverside Park and is compatible with the university health system’s master plan for physical growth, which calls for using its existing Wall Street properties to augment the main medical campus across the Huron River. “This facility will give two of our signature centers room to grow,” said Robert Kelch, EVP for medical affairs and CEO of University of Michigan Health System, in a statement.

The building’s top two floors will house advanced laboratories for Type 1 diabetes research. This section is funded with a portion of a $44-million donation by Dolores and William Brehm in 2004 and will include offices of the Brehm Center for Type 1 Diabetes Research and Analysis. Additional vision research space will include capabilities for collaborating with Brehm researchers on eye-related complications of diabetes. Ophthalmology and diabetes activities will be co-located in the Kellogg addition, and the laboratories will have open floor plans to allow maximum contact among researchers.

Kellogg was the first in the country to receive federal certification for eye gene testing, and it developed a microchip genetic testing device. Paul R. Lichter, director of Kellogg, plans to recruit new senior scientists to focus on genetic research. “With additional resources and space, we will be able to transform concepts into technologies for treatment,” he says, adding, “several current projects have potential to yield major breakthroughs.”

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