'Durham Research Center II' name for second tower approved

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The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday approved the name "The Durham Research Center II" for research tower on the right, which will be nearly identical to the first Durham Research Center, left. Both towers are named for the late Chuck Durham, who was an ardent supporter of UNMC.
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday approved "Durham Research Center II" as the name of the second research tower on the UNMC campus.

When completed, the 10-level facility, presently called the Research Center of Excellence II, will be nearly identical to the Durham Research Center, which opened in 2003.

Funding for the $74 million facility will come largely through private support. The late Chuck Durham -- who died in April at age 90 -- provided the lead gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

"Chuck Durham was the motivating force behind the construction of both of our research towers and it's only fitting that his name is on both buildings," said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D. "To say his support was vital to the expansion of our research enterprise is a gross understatement. We simply would not be where we are without his visionary leadership."

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Chuck Durham, left, and Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D.
The second research tower -- which is nearly complete -- will contain 252,179 gross square feet with 98 state-of-the-art laboratories, as well as office space for investigators and laboratory support space.

It sits only a few yards south of the Durham Research Center on the northwest corner of Durham Research Plaza (formerly 45th Street) and Emile Street. The two research towers will be connected with a covered passageway.

Grand opening festivities for the second tower are set for May 5 and 6.

Durham's support for the medical center is legendary.

In 1998, he and his wife, Margre, established the Charles W. and Margre H. Durham Excellence in Medicine Fund at UNMC to support research in prostate cancer, arthritis and minimally invasive surgery. This support made it possible for UNMC to be the eighth medical center in the country to acquire the computer-assisted da Vinci Surgical System.

In recognition of an additional gift, the Outpatient Care Center was renamed the Durham Outpatient Center.

Durham's gifts also made possible the employee parking garage, southeast of the intersection of Emile Street and the Durham Research Plaza.

In 2003, thanks to his support, the 10-level, $77 million Durham Research Center opened.

The second building will tower over a commemorative sculpture of Durham that UNMC has commissioned by Omaha artist John Labja.

Durham served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Durham Resources, an investment company with interests in banks, health care and real estate development.

Before that, he served as chairman and CEO of Omaha-based HDR, Inc., one of the nation's top engineering and architectural companies.