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Herzog & de Meuron will design San Francisco’s newest hospital

It Can Rock, But Can't Roll

Herzog & de Meuron will design San Francisco’s newest hospital

The UCSF Parnassus Heights campus as it appeared in 2014. (Frank Farm/Flickr)

The largest University of California San Francisco (UCSF) campus is about to get even bigger, as the school announced on July 7 that Herzog & de Meuron would be designing the forthcoming UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights. Multinational architecture firm HDR will serve as the architect of record.

The healthcare facility, as planned, will encompass 955,000 square feet and should add another 200 hospital beds to the campus, raising their capacity to 675. The new hospital building will also include collaborative research space, the physical realization of what UCSF is calling “bench to bedside” care (the rapid integration of new research and technology into patient care), and a vastly enhanced ability to treat patients requiring specialty care; the school noted that it has been forced to turn away 3,000 such patients annually due to a lack of space.

The demand for a new hospital is also being driven by the city’s explosive growth (UCSF expects the population across the Bay Area to increase by 750,000 in the next decade) and the need to meet California’s new seismic requirements by 2030. Faced with the choice of decommissioning the UCSF Moffitt Hospital, built in 1955, or seismically retrofitting the facility, the school will close the hospital and replace it with the UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center.

Part of the issue is that the school is currently starved for space at its Parnassus Heights campus; the University of California Board of Regents implemented a square footage limit for new projects at the campus in 1976, severely restricting what could be built there. For the new hospital, the school will ask the board for permission to build beyond the typical allotment.

Come the fall, the school will begin an outreach program to gather input from other architects and community stakeholders to formulate the design. The public community input process will begin in January 2021, and if the project moves ahead as planned, the hospital is expected to open its doors in 2030. Aside from the $500 million pledge UCSF received from the the Helen Diller Foundation in 2018 (hence the name), the school has indicated it will fund the new medical center through debt and private financing, though no total cost has been given yet.

The new hospital will rise in tandem with the multi-decade Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan (CPHP) master plan to revitalize UCSF’s oldest campus. The total plan, accessible here, was prepared by Perkins Eastman and covers everything from reorganizing the campus to overhauling parking, to establishing a new set of unifying design guidelines.