By Meghan Hall
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Outpatient Center opened its doors at the end of July, the product of years of collaboration and is now the largest outpatient center in the Bay Area designed specifically for children. The 89,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility was designed by architecture, engineering and consulting firm HDR, who partnered with Taylor Design, Oakland city officials, medical professionals and patients to realize the final product. Designed to fulfill the requirements of a LEED Silver Healthcare facility, the team behind the outpatient center hopes it will pave the way for the future renovations of Oakland Children’s Hospital and UCSF Health’s involvement in Oakland.
“It’s a great project and I’m very proud of the team that delivered it,” stated Todd Tierney, the regional director of architecture and principal part of the team from HDR, the architecture, engineering and consulting firm who partnered with Taylor Design to work on the project. “I think it’s going to be one of those buildings that I’m hopeful will set the stage for how the rest of the campus evolves over time.”
The outpatient facility, which is part of a multi-phase project to renovate Children’s Hospital Oakland and opened just this past August, added much-needed exam rooms and workspace to the original center and serves over 42,000 patients a year, many of who return consistently to treat chronic or long-term conditions. The new facility also is home to a 17,000-square-foot rehabilitation center that includes a physical therapy gym and an outdoor agility course. State-of-the-art technologies will allow the center to more efficiently treat children and teens in numerous specialties such as neurology, cardiology and infectious diseases.
Designing the facility was no small feat, according to Project Manager Nick Chiu, who worked with HDR on behalf of JLL, the project’s real estate manager.
“The whole design process was under development from 2012 to 2014,” explained Chiu. “That’s when all of the programming was established, and that’s when we nailed down the design.”
Tierney estimated that there were roughly 30 community meetings with patients and families, and 25 departmental user groups that collected the input of hospital staff, administrators and medical experts. The groups discussed everything from infection control to wall art work in order to come up with the outpatient center’s design.
“A lot of these children are repeat clients who spend a lot of time in that hospital,” said Tierney. “We wanted to know what does the next chapter look like? How does it complement what’s there and how does it tie into the community?”
Incorporating the building into the existing neighborhood posed a challenge for the team not from just a design perspective, but an architectural one as well. The new outpatient center is directly attached to the hospital, which meant the team had to match the original building’s floor and ceiling heights exactly to tie the buildings together.
Once the team figured out utilities and scale, they settled on a design using vibrant colors and an overall theme title, “On to Greatness.” According to Tierney, each of the six floors has a different theme, ranging from “Hope”— which is meant to symbolize growth— to “Soaring”— which represents flight. The theme of each floor is represented by a particular color palette, which serves to decrease the need for signage throughout the center.
“Right now, we’re trying to make it less about signage and more about experience,” explained Tierney. “The themes are seen on the pattern of the floor, and it takes the children straight to their exam or procedure rooms.”
The theming and vibrant colors carry onto the walls as well, which are covered with artwork produced by children and their families. The team engaged a local artist to lead and conduct workshops in which the patients produced artwork for the facility. The drawings and paintings are not only framed on the walls in the waiting rooms, but the design team turned many of them into applied graphics, which cover the walls of the exam rooms.
“They created this phenomenal art that was based around the same principles that guided us, and we are displaying it on each floor as is appropriate for the theme,” said Tierney.
The outpatient center will continue to serve patients as the current facility is decamped and prepared for seismic upgrades required by the City. According to Scott Fyffe, JLL’s vice president, the seismic retrofitting will need to be completed by 2020, and work is expected to begin within the next couple of months.
“Part of the reason this outpatient center was needed was to decamp the existing hospital to do those seismic upgrades,” said Fyffe. “We’ve also got some other clinics off-site and two floors at Summit within their existing hospital to decamp.”
As UCSF slowly expands its presence around the Bay Area in order to create its health care system, the organization will be changing its approach to development and construction. “They’re bringing some of their own people from UCSF,” said Fyffe.
UCSF Health announced its Northern California campaign in October 2015, stating its intentions to move beyond standalone medical centers to a more expansive network of hospitals and medical care centers.
“I think if anything, there’s probably some financial stability with UCSF coming in,” continued Fyffe. “The ability for this hospital to go to its next phase, which is to build a new tower and parking structure, and having UCSF behind them to get the philanthropy and money to do it is probably a good thing.”