And the award for the 2022 building of the year goes to ...

May 21, 2021
Two people sitting outside looking at a giant movie screen
Dozens of people showed up at the green space next to MUSC's Urban Farm to watch the world premiere of "The Groundbreaking." Photos by Anne Thompson

Though it just missed the cutoff for the 2021 Academy Awards, the buzz surrounding “The Groundbreaking” is starting to gain steam. Well, at least with faculty, students and alumni of the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy. 

The “film,” which was the brainchild of the COP’s very own Roby Hill, director of communications, and Megan Draper, director of development, centers on something that has been in the works for the past 50-plus years: a much-needed new building for the College of Pharmacy. In pre-pandemic times, you might have seen this milestone celebrated by a bunch of top dogs from MUSC smiling and holding gold shovels. But this new virus-filled world has forced – and in many ways led to – some outside-of-the-box thinking from those within the university. As a result, a 30-minute video was born, featuring equal parts ceremony and Oscar-worthy performances by the likes of College of Pharmacy Dean Philip Hall, Pharm.D.; provost Lisa Saladin, PT, Ph.D.; and even Phil the Pill, COP’s unofficial mascot. 

A series of two photos, one is a still image from the film with the dean talking on a red phone and the other is of a table of goodies from the event featuring plastic shovels sitting next to the red phone from the film 
In the film, Dean Hall uses "the red phone" to make an emergency call. It made a surprise appearance at the film's debut.

Since 1952, the college has been headquartered in a building on Calhoun Street that was originally constructed as a cancer clinic. Over the decades, some lab and research space has crept into the Drug Discovery Building as well as the Basic Science and Biomedical Engineering buildings. Now, the college will get its very own 22,000-square-foot space in the BSB, constructed out of concrete and glass. 

The groundbreaking video is filled with laughs, confusion, drama, tension, thrills – OK, so maybe not all of that, but it is certainly entertaining – and centers on the hunt for the ceremonial shovel. It brings together past COP deans, such as William Golod, Ph.D. – the very man who began the quest for a new building back in the 1970s – with current dean, Hall. 

“This groundbreaking has been decades in the making,” Hall said from the pulpit of St. Luke’s Chapel on the MUSC campus. “Literally thousands of people have donated their time, talent and resources to making this day possible.”

The film was screened at the green space next to the Urban Farm. Nearly 50 people sat on blankets and munched on popcorn as the film was streamed on YouTube. Joining those on campus were alumni from all over the country – Wisconsin, New Jersey, Virginia – weighing in with how excited they were. 

“Today is a great day for us to celebrate the history of the College of Pharmacy and to take a giant step toward its future,” Saladin said.

Not to spoil the ending, but Golod jumps in to save the day with his very own shovel. “I have been waiting to use this shovel for over 50 years,” he said. “If they would let me, I’d drive the bulldozer myself.”

In a scene reminiscent of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, Golod’s shovel is passed from one key player to another – a group composed of former deans, alumni, current and past faculty – until eventually ending in the hands of Hall. Along the way, each person tosses the shovel out of frame to a new person who catches it from off-camera. You’ll have to excuse the lack of continuity as the shovel in the video switches from plastic to metal at the very end because, well, let’s be honest, someone getting hit by a flying metal shovel only works on “America’s Funniest Videos.”

In the end, nine key players make ceremonial first shovel digs into a planter in front of the Basic Science Building. The building is expected to be finished by the summer of 2022 and begin housing faculty and students by the fall of the same year.

Artist rendering of new COP building 
An artist's rendering of the new building, which will be ready by 2022. Image provided