Robert Justin Hersh, an associate principal at TSK Architects, didn’t have much time to leave a legacy that would last well into the future. He was only 35 years old when he died last October as a result of complications from a stroke.
Yet, he left a lasting legacy.
Hersh, ’09 BS and ’11 Master of Architecture from UNLV, was the architectural project manager for the recently completed Kirk Kerkorian Medical Education Building, a striking and inviting $120 million venue for the training of medical doctors for generations to come at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. Flexibility is a key feature of the building that earned a top honor award for design excellence from the American Institute of Architects Nevada. While the school’s yearly class size is now 60 students per class, the building, where the aesthetic use of glass bathes the interior in energy-reducing natural light, is designed to appropriately handle a class of 120.
Notes Dr. Bill Evans, the 1980 founder of Congenital Heart Center Nevada, which continues to provide outstanding surgical results for those born with a heart problem: “The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine is a stunning architectural contribution to our region and the state. Robert Hersh’s legacy is secure.”
Says Dr. Marc J. Kahn, dean of the school of medicine: “The health care of the Las Vegas Valley depends on our ability to train the future generations of physicians, and what better place to do that than in a modern, technologically advanced medical education building?”
TSK President Windom Kimsey and Hersh’s twin sister, Felicia Lindquist, with the support of dozens of friends and family, came together to create an endowed scholarship in Hersh's memory. The Robert J. Hersh Memorial Scholarship will exist in perpetuity to help aspiring medical professionals at UNLV receive their education in the building that meant so much to him.
“Robert was so passionate about the design of the building,” Kimsey says. “He really cared. You can train the technical, but you can’t train passion and thirst for knowledge. He took things personally. When you design a building, you have consultants, contractors, who sometimes look to do things differently. He wanted to make sure our ideas and thoughts were executed as much as possible. We worked a lot of hours into the night and on weekends. The building was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.”
On Oct. 5, 2022, less than two years after the groundbreaking for the medical education building and less than three weeks before Hersh died, the nonprofit Nevada Health and Bioscience Corporation (NHBC), which contributed $120 million in philanthropic donations to the cost of the building, celebrated the structure’s completion in the Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD).
Maureen Schafer, the president and CEO of NHBC, recalls that Hersh ran the weekly construction meetings for the building that now anchors the LVMD and serves as the centerpiece of the medical school’s learning environment.
“It was the first project he oversaw. There would be very difficult issues that would crop up, and he handled them like a veteran. He solved them quickly. We had a very cohesive and collaborative team working on this building in large part because of Robert and his approach. He worked so many hours without complaint and was never negative. This is so sad for the community because of what he was going to give us with his talent in the future. While we were able to only see one small nugget of his talent, he made a big difference in Southern Nevada.”
Lindquist says her brother was looking forward to designing future buildings for the medical school. “Robert was really excited about working on the next phase of the medical school,” she says. “He thought it was so important that we had a medical school in Las Vegas.”
Hersh and his sister relocated with their family to Las Vegas from New York City in 2001. Before entering UNLV, they attended Palo Verde High School, where both were honor students and on the swim team. Lindquist points out that her brother’s architectural work, some done while he was with another architectural firm, included projects in K-12, higher education, retail, mixed-use, religious structures, and large-scale hospitality venues. In addition to the medical education building, his work includes: Desert Diamonds Baseball Complex at Mountain’s Edge Regional Park in Clark County; Earl N. Jenkins Elementary School, a prototype structure for the Clark County School District; and the Clark County Regional Justice Center conversion in downtown Las Vegas.
Lindquist says her brother always looked for ways to give back, including donating his time to help feed others through The Just One Project and serving as vice president of the alumni chapter of the UNLV College of Fine Arts, which houses the university’s school of architecture.
Larry Henley, director of alumni affairs for the fine arts college, says Hersh was “very giving of his time and willing to give back to the university.” Henley says Hersh, who enjoyed mentoring young architectural students, had the kind of personality that instantly made people gravitate to him, which Wonda Riner, the chief information and marketing officer for the school, also noted.
“I feel honored to have known and had the opportunity to work with Robert during the renovations of our Shadow Lane campus, where we started classes for the medical school in 2017, and then again, during the construction of the medical education building,” she said. “He was so positive about what we were doing at the school. I'm so glad that TSK Architects is establishing a scholarship in his name so that his passion for UNLV and his contributions to the medical school can live on.”
Robert J. Hersh Memorial Scholarship Fund
Annette Carter, the senior director of development at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, has set up a Robert J. Hersh Memorial Scholarship fund. If you would like to donate by check to the endowed scholarship fund, she says they can be mailed to:
Gift Processing Department
4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154-1006
“Please mark the memo section of the check or enclose a note directing the check be deposited in Fund 7626,” Carter says.
Carter says if donors would like to donate a gift of stock, please communicate with her through email@example.com, or call her at 702-823-3767.
Online gifts can be made through Rebel Raiser.
Donations are tax deductible, and each donor will receive a letter for tax purposes.