Dynamic New San Francisco Hospital Opens its Doors

By Roxanne Squires

SAN FRANCISCO — A brand-new flagship hospital for Sutter Health — the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) — opened its doors to patients in March, serving as a hub for Sutter Health’s inpatient and outpatient services citywide.

The 1,015,000-square-foot hospital encompasses 11 patient floors (plus two-stories of central utility plant located above,) 274-patient beds, 20 labor and delivery rooms, and 418 parking spaces.

The California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) Van Ness Campus hospital ultimately reimagines what an urban medical center can be, with dynamic architecture that knits the civic realm to 21st century health care and provides a beacon for health and wellness in the city.

Located on a full-city block at the major arterial intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard in downtown San Francisco, the hospital was designed to enhance the urban fabric as a 12-story contemporary glass, metal and stone tower reflective of the high-rise buildings of the city’s nearby Financial District.

According to Kent Hetherwick, principal and project manager for CPMC Van Ness, SmithGroup, the hospital design offers patients, visitors and staff rich daylighting, expansive views across the city from all patient rooms and a roof-top courtyard garden.

Inside the hospital, each floor is themed to a natural element — earth, flora, water, light and air — with sophisticated finishes, colors and the use of super graphics to reinforce the concept of the floor and help orient people in the building. Lighting design throughout the hospital enhances healing and helps to clarify wayfinding in the large facility.

The new hospital was also built in response to California’s 2030 deadline that all hospitals must be capable of remaining operational after an earthquake. 

To achieve this, the new facility uses two novel approaches to strengthen the structure against seismic vibration: 120 viscous wall dampers absorb vibration without the need for superstructure, the first time this technology has been used in a hospital in North America; and the building’s glass curtainwall uses four-sided structural silicone sealant that is higher performing in a seismic event than a traditional clip-in curtainwall system.

The patient bedside is prioritized in the design as the most meaningful space in a patient-centered environment. 

Each room is designed for bedside care delivery, bringing services like X-ray to the patient in order to increase patient safety, comfort and wellness.

A family zone is integrated into each room with dedicated space for them to participate comfortably in the care of their loved one — in some rooms the banquet couch even converts to a cot for family to stay within the room.

Additionally, each floor has multiple family room spaces for visitors to step away to unplug and relax.

On the fifth-floor birthing center, a large family waiting area overlooks an accessible open-air courtyard garden to provide family members a comfortable place to pass the time while they await the arrival of their newest addition.

Both the comfort and efficacy of staff is another key consideration in the design. Planning of the new hospital sought to improve workflow and enhance patient care by eliminating literal and figurative boundaries between hospital departments.

For example, the adult and pediatric emergency departments share an adjacency with the imaging department to ensure quick and accessible treatment.

As for technological advancements, The Real Time Location System that tracks equipment, assets, patients and key staff members to improve patient safety, streamline staff workflow and eliminate “hunting and gathering” activities, and support equipment preventative maintenance and calibration requirements is incorporated into this facility.

“The electronic wayfinding system that allows patients and visitors to navigate through the building using the digital wayfinding and/or an app on their ‘phone, reducing frustration and improving patient satisfaction,” said Phil Crompton, Principal, Vantage Technologies.

The wireless system which has overtaken wired connections as the primary method for accessing information in the building, providing improved access to electronic medical record data for staff and connections to work and home for patients and loved ones.

The CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital is also designed to achieve LEED Silver certification (which is currently pending review by USGBC as of March 2019), and the sustainable measures employed improve the health and wellness of occupants as well as conserving resources. 

The new hospital uses 14 percent less energy than an average hospital of its size.  All patient rooms receive direct natural daylight, so energy use from lighting is reduced. Further, nearly all of the hospital’s lighting is LED dramatically reducing energy use for lighting.

A 100 percent filtered outside air system enhances the interior air quality while being a lower-energy ventilation system for the hospital. The hospital’s five green roofs total 25,000 sf and are planted with native vegetation that filters rainwater for irrigation, saving 180,000 gallons of drinkable water annually. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are used throughout the hospital to reduce day-to-day water usage.

Abatement and demolition of the former building on the site began in approximately July 2013. An emergency structural shoring contractor came in to ensure the building was fully safe and supported. Shoring and excavation were fully completed approximately November 2014, and construction for the building began in December 2014.  The hospital admitted its first patients on March 2, 2019.

Sutter Health leveraged an integrated project delivery (IPD) for the CPMC Van Ness Campus hospital, with three contract signatories on the Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA):  the owner, Sutter Health; the architect, SmithGroup; and the general contractor, HerreroBOLDT (a joint venture of Herrero Builders and The Boldt Company).

“There is a sentiment echoed by many project participants that integrated project delivery process was very conducive to this successful project, and I would agree,” said Hetherwick. “This delivery method increases collaboration, bringing together all team members together in a co-located space and under an Integrated Form of Agreement—the client, architect, contractor and risk partners agree pool their profits with the goal of sharing risks and savings.”

Hetherwick continued explaining how this fosters a one-for-all-team attitude to be as efficient as possible and deliver the project with the best value back to the owner.  Everyone is invested in the process and the project’s success, leading to greater collaboration and feedback during design and construction that minimizes unknowns and conflicts and eliminates value engineering after design completion.

“The result is that this project ended with a contingency balance of approximately $20 million to be shared between IFOA members, came in under its original project budget, and was delivered on time,” concluded Hetherwick.