Cleveland Clinic breaks ground on expansion of Cole Eye Institute

The expansion includes the construction of the Jeffrey and Patricia Cole Building at Cole Eye Institute and renovation of the existing building.

The Cleveland Clinic on Friday held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction of the 150,000-square-foot Jeffrey and Patricia Cole Building at Cole Eye Institute.

The project also will include the renovation of the existing 130,000-square-foot Cole Eye Institute building constructed in 1999, according to a news release.

According to the clinic, the $177 million renovation and four-story new structure will be focused on a team-based operating model to improve access for patients, increase capabilities and enhance patient experience. The new facility will feature an ophthalmic surgical center that will include 12 operating rooms, three refractive surgery procedure rooms and 50 eye exam rooms.

The two buildings will be connected to create an integrated eye center designed to deliver an outstanding patient experience, as well as leading edge eye care, research and education.

Cole Eye Institute is among the world’s most advanced eye centers and a leader in ophthalmologic research. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Cole Eye serves more than 330,000 patients annually – among the highest volumes in the nation. The institute includes more than 140 staff physicians and researchers who diagnose, treat and investigate all conditions of the eye, including macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

“This project is rooted in our vision to make Cleveland Clinic the best place for care anywhere,” Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, MD, said in a news release. “Through expanded facilities, we can improve access and touch more lives, which we see as our ethical imperative. The world looks to us for innovative solutions and projects like this that position Cleveland Clinic to thrive in today’s complex healthcare environment.”

According to the clinic news release, the project is funded by a gift of $31.5 million from Jeffrey A. Cole and his wife Patricia O’Brien Cole.

The clinic noted that Cole and his company Cole National, which at one time was the world’s largest provider of commercial vision care services and based in Cleveland for 60 years, also contributed the lead gift that established the Cole Eye Institute in 1999.

“It has been a long journey since 1999 to today’s groundbreaking,” Jeffrey Cole said in a statement. “But it marks the opportunity for Cole Eye to further serve more patients in need of eye care and to become the number one program in the nation.”

Moreover, the clinic noted in the release that philanthropy has been critical to the expansion with $125 million raised to support this project, including funds for capital expenses and expanding patient care, research and education.

“The expansion of Cole Eye Institute has been fueled by our exponential growth over the past decade,” Daniel F. Martin, MD, chairman of Cole Eye Institute and the Barbara and A. Malachi Mixon III Institute Chair of Ophthalmology, said in a news release. “This new leading-edge facility will allow our caregivers to continue providing exceptional clinical care and to facilitate innovative breakthroughs in research.”

As part of the project, plans also call for the expansion of the Louise Timken Ophthalmic Education Center, which will facilitate growth of eye research, an expanded education and training simulation center and centralization of multiple ophthalmology research labs. The space will also feature a new Center of Excellence in Ophthalmic Imaging.

The Cole Eye Institute leadership board, comprised of 14 community leaders, was instrumental in helping to move this project forward. Led by Carole Hoover and the late Mal Mixon, the group of advisors was very supportive of this work.

Designed by Bostwick Design Partnership and HGA, and constructed by Whiting-Turner Construction, the project is expected to begin by late summer with completion at the end of 2025. Patient care will continue during construction.