UCSF to move ahead on $4.3 billion hospital expansion

Plan includes four major projects that combine for 1.5M square feet

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood with 400 Parnassus Ave (Wikipedia, Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with HDR)
UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood with 400 Parnassus Ave (Wikipedia, Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with HDR)

The cramped UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco is about to become 1.5 million square feet larger.

The University of California regents have approved a plan to build a new $4.3 billion hospital at its 115-year-old flagship campus in Parnassus Heights, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It’s one of the largest west side real estate projects in decades.

A new 16-story UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center hospital will address “significant capacity constraints” at the University of California, San Francisco medical school, which officials say results in an overcrowded ER and patients being turned away.

In the past year, the hospital rejected more than 3,800 patients from other facilities that couldn’t meet their complex care needs.

The new hospital at 400 Parnassus Ave. will transform the nearly six-block campus, which serves as headquarters for UCSF. It also will boost inpatient bed capacity by 37 percent to 682 beds, from 499 beds, and expand its emergency department by 65 percent.

It replaces the 70-year old Moffitt Hospital, which fails to meet the state seismic code. The campus upgrade includes four major projects spread across 1.5 million square feet of new construction. A rendering depicts a cantilevered building rising like a Mayan pyramid in the Sunset District.

Switzerland-based Herzog & de Meuron, with HDR as the architect of record, will design the medical facility expansion, including 1,263 residential units for students and hospital staff, a new hospital, and research buildings, according to SFYimby.

Construction is expected to begin next year, and be completed by 2030.

“When it opens in 2030, the new hospital will incorporate the latest innovations in technology, including advanced diagnostics and robotics, to drive new therapies and treatments that are backed by UCSF’s scientific research,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said in a statement.

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The new hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center will partly take the place of Langley Porter, the psychiatric unit currently at the east end of the Parnassus campus. Regents approved the demolition of four Langley Porter buildings.

As part of the project, UCSF will also renovate parts of the existing Moffitt and Long hospitals to function as one hospital that will connect on several floors. Moffitt will also be seismically retrofitted.

The project also included the controversial demolition of UC Hall, a vacant research building with historic frescoes by Bernard Zakheim dating to the 1930s.

After a long legal battle, UCSF in November removed the “History of Medicine in California” frescoes by crane after agreeing to pay $3.2 million to preserve them in order to begin the campus makeover.

UC Hall, which opened in 1917 as the first campus hospital, will be replaced by a new and renamed research and academic building to open in 2026.

The UCSF School of Nursing is also set to be replaced by a larger facility.

Financing for the $4.3 billion campus project will include $603 million from donors. The Helen Diller Family Foundation pledged $500 for planning, design and construction.

In 2021, the school cut a deal with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, and contractor Herrero Boldt Webcor, to include 1,000 unionized construction jobs in the project.

[San Francisco Chronicle] – Dana Bartholomew

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