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Eye in the Sky Capturing Construction of New Medical Education Center

Blog post photo 1 Every day around here is different—but last Wednesday took it to new heights. A few colleagues and I ended up on top of the Penn Tower garage counting down a liftoff. “Four, three, two, one.” And with that, a mini helicopter (well, technically a hexacopter) took to the skies, right off the roof, and headed to the newest addition to the Perelman School of Medicine campus skyline: The Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center. 

The building is quickly rising higher, and we’re working with a professional drone photographer to capture the construction progress up to its completion.  That’s where the hexacopter “Airwolf” (pictured above) comes in. This state-of-the-art drone is equipped with a digital camera that will zip up and around the site periodically over the next six months or so snapping stills and video.

So, how does it work?

A multicopter flies using the downward thrust of powerful electric motors to lift off, with propellers (anywhere from three to eight) powered by batteries that only last about 10 minutes. It steers and moves by controlling the angle of the vehicle with the help of gyroscopes, computers, and most importantly, the skill of the pilot. The controls resemble a remote control for a toy helicopter, and you can see the shots real time through a periscope-type contraption secured to that control.  And it’s capable of lifting a four to six pound camera.

Photo_drone_low res

“Airwolf” — the aerial photography drone

The drone will capture great shots and video over the course of the construction, but we’ll also have a stationary GoPro camera set up in an office at the Smilow Research Center, just across the way. We don’t want to miss anything—and this will give us some great time-lapsed shots of the one-and-a -half story new building, all 55,000 square feet of it.

The $38 million Jordan Center isn’t just any new building: it will re-imagine and redefine 21st-century medical education at the Perelman School of Medicine. Located atop the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and connected to the Smilow Center for Translational Research and the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, it will be one of the few medical educational facilities in the nation to be fully integrated with research and clinical practice facilities. Such proximity will give students an experience that combines medicine in the classroom, exam room and the lab.

“More than a collection of classrooms and study areas, the new Jordan Center will play a prominent role in advancing innovation in every aspect of medicine,” says J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine.

The Jordan Center will have a flexFotor0617112151ible, adaptable, and state-of-the-art environment to support the medical school’s small- group learning model. It will also strengthen the collaborative and team-based relationships that define medicine today. High- tech recording and simulcast technology will allow faculty members to more easily create online courses and lectures available to millions across the globe.

Perhaps the most stunning feature will be the mezzanine level.  Natural light and an open floor plan define the heart of this dynamic new space. The picture to the left shows an artist rendering of the all-glass mezzanine level and next to it is an external aerial shot of the space. Right below that space is the rooftop patio, where students will be able to enjoy fresh air as well as sweeping views of the city.

That’s all to report for now. We just wanted to let you know we’ve embarked on this mission, and give you a small taste of what this eye in the sky can do. 

As you can see, it can take some very impressive shots.


Aerial shot of the new Jordan Medical Education Center

Can’t wait to see what the inside will look like? Check out this virtual tour of the new center on YouTube.



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