Educational Cornerstone

Health Education Building opens to students

The Health Education Building is putting a new face on the corner of Rainbow Boulevard and 39th Street in Kansas City, Kan. 

The building is a beacon of education, the cornerstone of a campus that is evolving with new approaches to educating physicians, nurses and other health professionals. The university community celebrated its grand opening on July 20, and the first group of students began classes on July 24. 

While the building offers a gem of beauty with its curb appeal, it’s what’s happening inside that really turns heads: The University of Kansas Medical Center is transforming health care education and in turn, changing lives throughout the region. Soon, health care professionals will graduate better prepared to serve our communities. 

“As leaders in interprofessional education, our new Health Education Building allows KU Medical Center to train medical, nursing and allied health professions students together, under one roof,” said Dr. Douglas A. Girod, chancellor of the University of Kansas and former executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center. “This building is the first in which medical, nursing and health professions faculty will work together to teach students from all three schools, practicing together during simulation training, giving all students real-world experience working as a team to improve patient outcomes.” 

The look and feel of the iconic glass structure pays tribute to the natural Kansas environment with its rolling, green outdoor spaces and open, light design. The modern design is a metaphor for the body and reflects the students’ experience. The glass “skin” envelops the interior and gives a glimpse into the structure within it. Molded terra cotta baguettes behind the glass symbolize ribs surrounding the simulation labs, or internal organs.

How the building will support education is the true marvel: The new medical curriculum emphasizes a hands-on education, with focus on simulation, case-based collaborative learning, clinical reasoning and problem solving. 

Auditorium classes will be a thing of the past. Learning will be in small groups, and students from all disciplines — medicine, nursing and health professions — will work together in teams, solving realistic health care scenarios instead of taking classes in separate buildings. Actors and robotic medical manikins will bring medical situations to life. With these tools, students can learn the core competencies of medicine before ever approaching a patient. 

“The new HEB and simulation space is not only unique in its architecture, but is distinguished from the rest of the medical center as the only place on campus where the patient is not first,” said David Zamierowski, M.D., of Overland Park, Kan. He and his wife, Mary, made a lead gift for simulation equipment and facilities that comprise the Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning (ZIEL).

“At ZIEL, to achieve the special support and guidance required for performance practice, the practitioner or student or trainee comes first,” Zamierowski said. “By doing this in the HEB, we will ultimately improve all care in the hospital and the clinics — where patients do indeed come first.”

The building’s high-tech, flexible spaces provide technology at every turn. Learning areas are completely wireless, and seating can be reconfigured quickly. Students can share information via video monitors and interactive video recordings will allow for review, feedback and more interaction with faculty than was possible with a lecture-focused education. The collaboration extends beyond the classroom with gathering and study spaces that further build camaraderie.

The Practice and Home Care Lab on level 5 gives students the tools needed to learn and practice necessary skills together. Students will develop skills in everything from patient care in a hospital bed to home care in asimulated “apartment.” 

The $82 million building was funded through a combination of public and private funds, including $26 million from the state of Kansas, $21 million from KU Medical Center and private gifts raised through KU Endowment. Donor contributions totaled nearly $42 million, which not only funded the current construction and equipment budget, but also provided additional funds for technology enhancements and future needs. Private support includes a $25 million lead gift from the Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City, Mo. David and Marilyn Zamierowski made a lead gift to create ZIEL.

“The transformation of The University of Kansas Health System, Cancer Center and schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions has been extraordinary,” said Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “This new HEB facility will be equally transformational as it allows new methods of training health professionals to serve this region for years to come.”

Creating a contemporary home for a modern health education in the state inspired private donors to give generously. The building — as well as the modern curriculum at the School of Medicine campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina — helps make KU a destination to recruit and retain the best and brightest students and faculty, giving hope to patients across Kansas and beyond. 

It also offers a fresh environment for that curriculum. Orr-Major Hall opened in 1976 as the main health education facility on the campus, but it lacked the flexibility and technology necessary for modern health education. HEB picks up where Orr-Major left off, moving students into a new era of health education.


BUILDING CONNECTIONS: A new bridge connects the HEB with the rest of the campus and serves as a light-filled gathering space for students and faculty.Mark McDonald
HANDS-ON LEARNING: Students and faculty demonstrated simulation exercises with medical manikins at the HEB grand opening. With the new building and the ZIEL location in Sudler Hall, KU Medical Center has added 35,000 square feet of simulation space in the last two years.Mark McDonald



Lead donors

Hall Family Foundation

David S. Zamierowski, MD & Marilyn M. Zamierowski, PhD


Other generous donors

David J. Anderson, MD

William S. Clifford, MD & Colonel Jean M. Clifford, USAFR (Ret)

Eric S. Edell, MD & Rosemary Edell

Calvin E. Engelmann, MD

Eric L. Fry, MD & Jena L. Fry

Luther L. Fry, MD & Ardis Fry, RN

Douglas Girod, MD & Susan Girod

Robert D. Hartley II, MD & Carole I. Hartley

John D. Hunkeler, MD & Mary Hunkeler

Alison & Eric Jager

William R. Jewell, MD & Sheila A. Jewell, RN

Diane J. Klepper, MD 

Carol Logan & Fred Logan

Norman L. Martin, MD & Shirley J. Martin, RN

McCownGordon Construction

Richard L. Morgan, MD & Karin A. Morgan, RN

Diane E. Neis

Mark R. Rasmussen, MD & Maureen Rasmussen, RN

T.J. Rasmussen, MD & Lynn M. Rasmussen, PhD, APRN

Robert D. Simari, MD & Kelly L. Simari

The Sosland Foundation

John W. Speas & Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust, Bank of America

Steven Stites, MD & Sandra Stites, MD

Francie & Bill Stoner

School of Health Professions

School of Medicine Classes of 1966, 1967, 1981 & 1986 

School of Medicine Departments of:



     General Surgery

     Family Medicine

     Internal Medicine


     Orthopedic Surgery

     Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery 

     Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

     Plastic Surgery

     Radiation Oncology


University of Kansas Medical Alumni Association



Artifacts from the Clendening History of Medicine Museum at KU Medical Center inspired several works of art that are on display throughout the building.