Children’s Mercy Hospital Launches Construction of Nine-Story Research Building

Construction has begun on a nine-story research tower at Children's Mercy Hospital's downtown campus.

Construction has begun on a nine-story research building at the Children’s Mercy Hospital downtown campus following record donations totaling $150 million from the Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation.

When completed in early 2020, employment at the Children’s Research Institute is projected to grow ten-fold,  hospital spokeswoman Lisa Augustine said.

“It’s hard to put a number on the research jobs we currently have, because so many people are cardiologists who are also doing research, or neonatologists or nephrologists,” she said.

“But when the CRI is full staffed, it will be around 3,000 people dedicated to research. Approximately 10 times more jobs than now.”

The $75 million donations from each of the foundations was described as the largest one-time gift to a children’s hospital for research in the United States.

The 375,000 square-foot new building is going up on Hospital Hill on the southeast corner of 23rd Street and Gillham Road.

It will provide more than six times the research space currently on campus, includes 140,000 square space of shell space for future growth and an auditorium seating more than 400 people.

Children’s officials said the donation also will allow the Research Institute to recruit top researchers from around the world.

“Thanks to the unparalleled generosity of the Hall and Sunderland families, our Children’s Research Institute will allow us to accelerate even more precise diagnoses and treatments for complex childhood diseases so we can provide groundbreaking care for the most difficult medical cases right here in Kansas City and around the globe,” Randall L. O’Donnell, president and CEO of Children’s Mercy, said in a statement.

Tom Curran, executive director of the Children’s Research Institute, said the medical research at the facility benefit not only its patients, but to young lives beyond its walls.

“So, in a sense, by treating one child here at Children’s Mercy, we may impact thousands elsewhere,” he said in a statement.

“By learning from our patients, particularly those whose needs are not being met by the existing standard of care, we will constantly thrive to move medicine forward.”

The Hall Family Foundation was created in 1943 by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark, along with his wife Elizabeth Hall, and his brother, Rollie B. Hall. It was dedicated to promoting the health and welfare of children, and the improvement of public health and social welfare in general.

“It is humbling to imagine how future advances in research made right here in Kansas City at Children’s Mercy will help and heal children near and far,” Margaret Pence Hall, a member of the foundation board, said in a statement.

The architect of the new research tower is
BSA LifeStructures.

The Sunderland Foundation was found in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of Ash Grove Cement Co. for 33 years. It’s considered the largest cement company in the U.S., according to a release.

“It means the world to our family to join the Hall family in supporting research at Children’s Mercy and helping to establish Kansas City as a premier, global research hug,” Kent Sunderland, president of the Foundation and vice chairman of Ash Grove Cement, said in a statement.

The new research tower was designed by the Overland Park office of BSA LifeStructures, a national healthcare design firm. McCownGordon is the contractor.

Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.