Chapter 16: Pickens Tower, The Research Medical Library, and Rotary House

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Chapter 16: Pickens Tower, The Research Medical Library, and Rotary House

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Mr. Daigneau talks about Pickens Tower, which was the next phase of development designed to provide space for faculty outside of clinical areas on the Main Campus. He explains the decision making behind the faculty fitness center, the food center, and the management of older spaces not suited for research. Mr. Daigneau explains that for symbolic reasons, he did not want MD Anderson's president to occupy the top floor of Pickens Tower. He wanted the Tower to communicate the philosophy that all State and philanthropic money is used wisely. He explains that he went to John Mendelsohn with the idea to put the Research Medical Library on the top floor because of the inspiring message it would send about MD Anderson priorities. The idea "immediately gained traction." [The recorder is paused briefly.] Mr. Daigneau completes the story of the Pickens Tower with a discussion about how parking was created and for the first time offered to employees through a tiered rate system linked to income. He then briefly discusses the expansion to Rotary House, including an addition to the bridge system to improve safety for anyone who would otherwise have to cross busy streets

Identifier

DaigneauW_01_20131003_C16

Publication Date

10-3-2013

Publisher

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Building the Institution; The Administrator; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Past; Institutional Processes; Discovery and Success; Building/Transforming the Institution; Growth and/or Change; Obstacles, Challenges; Professional Practice; The Professional at Work; Institutional Mission and Values; Understanding the Institution; The MD Anderson Ethos; MD Anderson Culture; The MD Anderson Brand, Reputation

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

So what's the next part of the story in terms of development?

William Daigneau, MBA:

Well, obviously the institution continued to grow, continued to add faculty, the migration continued moving out of the main complex all faculty offices. The next phase of that was moving all the radiation oncologists and all of the diagnostic imaging faculty basically to evacuate everything that was in office use in the main complex and was 100% research and 100% education and 100% clinical care. So that eventually led to the decision to move forward with the academic tower" the Pickens Tower, which" again, when we had master planned, we had master planned the faculty center for a twin building" two buildings, eventually. The growth outstripped another building the size of the faculty center. Plus there were other demands in place. One was for" a long promised fitness center for the faculty, so the fitness center. We had never built any food facilities in the faculty center because people could walk across the street or use Rotary House, but when we added another building, that was too much, so we had put in a food facility there. So there were a lot of things that increased the size of that building. Growth, amenities, space.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Was this another building that was designed purely for office?

William Daigneau, MBA:

Uh-hunh (affirmative). It was completion of the strategy moving all faculty offices out. So now all the faculty basically, including the president"

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Right.

William Daigneau, MBA:

(laughs) And then part of the planning was" remember I talked earlier about all of the oldest buildings were on the interior" the original Anderson, Gimbel, the basic research building" BRB was there" all of the older facilities were in the interior. So for a long time, Bates-Freeman was a big problem for us in terms of its abilities to maintain research. Plans had been put in place of how" how would we eventually get out of some of the older space, because it couldn't support modern research? With regards to the old hospital" Anderson East and West" we said, Well, we probably could continue to use those for support spaces tied to patient care activities." Gimbel was" we decided we'd have to keep Gimbel, but it would be primarily for research faculty offices. We undersized the faculty offices in" increased the square footage dedicated to research labs, decreased the amount for faculty offices on the research labs. In the clinical research building" we figured we'd always use Gimbel for that purpose, which was a good decision. That left Bates-Freeman and basic research building" Jones" as our oldest" some of our oldest research space, and those we could get to. We could actually go in and tear those down and rebuild on those sites. So a lot of the" and basically when we" when we" when we had planned the Mitchell Building, we had replaced the old vivarium that used to be in Bates-Freeman and Jones, so now we had a brand new vivarium" expanded vivarium, closed the old vivarium. So now Bates-Freeman and Jones" other than replacing those research labs, that only left the library that was in that space. CLIP B: MD Anderson History C: The MD Anderson Ethos B: MD Anderson Culture C: Understanding the Institution B: The MD Anderson Brand, Reputation A: The Administrator C: The Professional at Work Locating the Research Medical Library at the Top of Pickens Tower

William Daigneau, MBA:

+ So we had to find a place to eventually put the library. The funny story about" well, I don't know if it's funny, but if you're familiar with corporate America, whenever they build an office building or office tower, who goes up on the top floor?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

(laughs) Uh-hunh (affirmative). The president. CEOs. (laughs)

William Daigneau, MBA:

So I was afraid that would happen, because we were going to basically move the president's office and" as well as all the faculty out so we could clear the" the president's office was on the top floor of Clark, and that could be used for clinical space. So I was afraid what would happen was there'd be this big push" even the Board of Visitors would argue, John, you should have your office on the top floor," because that's what they would do. But I always feared that" what does that say about Anderson and where its values are? I was always concerned about that" what is the" that's why our philosophy when we built was" all the money went on the inside. We wanted the buildings to look attractive, but we weren't paying for a big-name architect to create some fancy architectural monument to themselves. All the money went to the inside. That's why we have pre-cast, durable, inexpensive, can be made to look good but not super fancy. Dr. Mendelsohn said, Everybody's building these all-glass buildings. Is that more expensive?" Yes, it is. It's more expensive to build and more expensive to maintain. They looked nice, but" anyway, all of the money" one of our philosophies was all of the money goes on the inside. Everything that's outside is attractive, neat, but not flashy" not extravagant. The money people spend to go to MD Anderson is used wisely, so from an architectural standpoint, I always wanted to make sure we were making the right statement to the public, to the tax payers of Texas, to the Regents, to the mayor and the citizens of Houston. When they saw Anderson facilities, they knew what our business was, and it wasn't a flashy building. The money went into research. The money went into patient care, and that's" that was our priority. So I always resisted this tendency to create something that was flashy when we were building. I was actively worked behind the scenes to make sure that we were making the right statement. Well, we come up" we're planning the academic tower, and I'm thinking, There's going to be a strong push to put the executive offices on the top floor. This is now an empire" the MD Anderson empire. What statement is this making about our priorities?" So I'm trying to figure out, Well, how did I broach this with the president?" Not that he was a flashy guy. He drove that old Volvo for years, but sometimes people get behind an idea, and I knew that there'd be some Board of Visitors that are CEOs saying, This is a great chance." I'd probably lose a battle to say, This is not the right thing to do." A lot of blocking action, you know? (laughs) It's like" we had this problem with the library. Where are we going to put the library in the future? (laughs) This is probably one of those sleepless nights like you had" (laughs)" wouldn't that be a wonderful place to put the library? Number one, even though the faculty and the students would have a" these are high-speed elevators, and secondly they get up there, and how inspiring that is to look over all of Houston. What statement does that make about our priorities? It goes to education. We save the best floor for an educational use. Our executives are on the floor below. We proposed that at Facility Steering Committee" to the credit of everyone, they did the right thing. They approved that.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

What was the reaction when you first proposed it?

William Daigneau, MBA:

It's like" when the thought came to me, it was like, What a wonderful statement!" It was like one of those things that gains traction, because you start thinking of all the positives about it. Now the one negative was your books are now on the top floor, so if you get a big hurricane through there, it rips off the top. One thing I" we didn't want to necessarily have the most valuable things of the entire institution up there, but it's a sturdy building. The likelihood of that happening is pretty slim. Anyway, that's how it ended up. It solved the problem of what to do with the library in the old space that we had" trying to vacate it all. We had solved the vivarium problem. We knew how to replace those laboratories. What did we do with the library? So that was a nice solution and made the right statement to people. You can ask the library. She was pretty happy with it.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

People still do love it. How can you not? The views are great. It is inspiring.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Yeah, it's relaxing. The problem is" out of the main" but that's a good" there's good things about that and there's negatives about that. So anyway, that's how the library ended up there. (laughs)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

So what happened next? There's the Main, Mid, and South Campus issues" South Campus Research Facilities, which you've mentioned briefly before. Maybe let's just pause for a second and kind of do some strategizing. (end of audio) (begin audio)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

All right, we are recording again. So we were just talking about what we have left to talk about, and where would you like to start with that? HMB, South Campus, new admin building?

William Daigneau, MBA:

So let's finish on Pickens. So basically the library got placed where it did. Basically all of the remaining faculty offices were dedicated to Pickens. We had an issue with parking" supporting the parking for that, so at the time that faculty center was built. The Texas Medical Center had built a parking garage behind Rotary House that would support both faculty center and Rotary House. Our requirement for ten years was" we had to basically keep the garage full. When we went to build Pickens, the parking garage" the TMC parking garage would not be sufficient, so we decided to build across the street where the radiation treatment centers" not treatment" the radiation" it's called the ROC" outpatient center" Radiation Outpatient Center" Radiology Outpatient Center, I'm sorry. That's located across the street at Pressler and Braeswood. We decided to build a new garage there to support Pickens. That created, again, a lot of tension between us and Texas Medical Center, because they believed" since we had a template where they built the garage, and we basically committed to keep it full all of the time, they thought they should build it.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Uh-hunh (affirmative). I see.

William Daigneau, MBA:

By then, Dr. Mendelsohn had concerns about the cost of parking, and one of the things we found was that we could build the parking garages cheaper than Texas Medical Center was building them, and secondly" since this was an auxiliary enterprise for us" not our main business. We didn't have the overhead Texas Medical Center had, so we could operate that much less expensively. That all translated to if we built it and operated it ourselves, it cost less to our employees and our patients. Bottom line. As I said, Dr. Mendelsohn had been and was always sensitive to what our patients were paying for parking and what our employees paid. Now parking costs" if you're a surgeon making six figure is not as much of an issue than a housekeeper or a secretary who's making $20,000 or $30,000 a year. So $600 a year or $700 a year has a different impact depending on how much money you take home.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Yeah.

William Daigneau, MBA:

So we decided to go ahead and build that parking garage after some discussion with Texas Medical Center. Those kinds of decisions continued to create hard feelings between Anderson and the leadership of the medical center. Again, they were in the interests of our mission and the interest of our people and our patients. So we built that garage to accompany Pickens as well as some employee parking in the main complex, because we were looking at total density of development in the main complex. We had sufficient parking planned for the Mays Clinic and all of that development. We didn't have sufficient parking to support the development of that research campus on the north side. When we built the garage on" the Braeswood garage, we sized it at maximum size that we could build on that site and still get cars in and out all the time. So it's maximum development, even though we didn't have a defined use at that time for all of it.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Uh-hunh (affirmative).

William Daigneau, MBA:

So that created some capacity in the garage that eventually will consume, but again, in the interest of our employees, for the first time" for the first time, I think" not in higher education but definitely in the Texas Medical Center and most other campuses, we began offering a tiered rate system based on your employment category in the institution. So basically it allowed the lowest earning employees, staff to get rates that were more in line with distant service parking but get it closer in. So that's a" that garage is unique in that" because of its size and being built for the future development. It allowed us also to provide some benefit to employees by the tiered rate system. So that kind of wraps up the development of Pickens Faculty Center, and then the last part of that was the expansion of Rotary House. We had originally built" Rotary House was planned for at least one expansion. We looked at it and figured it could actually be expanded twice, so we did the" there was the original Rotary House. We did the first expansion, added 100-some rooms to it. We also created an enhanced food service facilities and all of that.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

When was that first expansion done?

William Daigneau, MBA:

That was done in" I'm trying to remember the year now" in the mid 2000s. So there was room, then, for the third phase, and the third phase was basically to take it from an L shape and make it into a U shape. Now when we built the big garage across Braeswood and we offered the tiered rate system, we got a lot of people from the main complex using that garage, so at the end of the day, they would leave the main complex and instead of using the bridge system" which did not take them to the garage. They would just cut across the street there MD Anderson Boulevard and Holcombe. Once again, it is the same problem we had with people crossing midblock from faculty center back to the main complex. Well, now we've" so we had a public campaign" public service campaign, using our police to tell people, Do not cross midblock. It's dangerous. Use the intersection controlled crosswalks." People would complain, Well, I've tried those crosswalks, and they're just as dangerous." So anyway" so the question then became, How can we connect that garage by bridge system?" So the answer" the solution to that problem was the third addition to Rotary House, because when we constructed that addition" now we have a place to actually route people through Rotary House back to the" that bridge that goes from Rotary House over to the main complex. Well, when we had the financial difficulties a few years ago" again, the capital plan was" some projects were put on hold. That was one project that was put on hold. We never" even though the garage" when we built the garage, we planned basically for new bridge that would cross Braeswood, connect to the new addition to Rotary House, and then into the bridge system over to the main complex. So while some of our employees think that was" why didn't they think of this? We did think of it, and we did have a solution to that problem. The problem that we encountered was the financial.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Yeah, and that was in" around 2008.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Uh-hunh (affirmative).

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Uh-hunh (affirmative). Okay.

William Daigneau, MBA:

So there was a solution there, but it's" it hadn't been" and furthermore, the other thing we studied was" I told you earlier about" we looked at various sites. We still, in the master plan, have Garage 5 as a site for a future clinical building.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh. Uh-hunh (affirmative).

William Daigneau, MBA:

So it's possible that eventually from" and we did the actual routing studies" that we could actually move people from that garage into the" through the addition" Rotary addition and then a new bridge directly across to a new building at the Garage 5 site. That would be an even better solution. So all of those things have been" all that is at least" has been considered and is possible. So now moving onto" moving on" South Campus?

Chapter 16: Pickens Tower, The Research Medical Library, and Rotary House

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