Stanford Neuroscience Health Center
Head First: A new facility offers a streamlined place of healing for patients with brain disorders.
Architects & Firms
Palo Alto, California
Just off to the side of the palm tree–lined main entry to Stanford University’s stunning campus in Palo Alto, California, sits the compact Hoover Medical Campus. Its handful of buildings is well known to TEF Design. The San Francisco–based firm was first hired to renovate the nearly 100-year-old Hoover Pavilion. That Art Deco pile—the original Palo Alto hospital that now houses several primary-care clinics and the main branch of the Stanford Health Library—inspired many aspects of TEF’s design for the Stanford Neuroscience Health Center. From composition and scale to materials and organization, the new 95,000-square-foot center borrows telling aspects from its prominent neighbor.
“We wanted the new building to fit in on the campus without overwhelming the Hoover Pavilion,” says Alyosha Verzhbinsky, TEF principal in charge, “but also to have its own identity.” Mimicking the terra-cotta bands of fenestration on the older building, all but one facade of the new four-story structure features similarly scaled vertical strips with windows.
With a multibillion-dollar project for the same client—Stanford Health Center, by Rafael Viñoly Architects—under construction nearby, this facility was left with a tight budget. A conventional glass curtain wall wraps parts of the building, and much of the remaining exterior features stucco, with discrete portions clad in terra-cotta block.
The neuroscience center, an outpatient facility and the last building to be erected on this smaller campus, needed to be built quickly. “Some planning was going on simultaneously with construction,” says Verzhbinsky. “What’s normally a sequential process had to be integrated.” That process also included extensive input from a patient advisory board, physicians, and staff to address every aspect of the building’s design.
From the sprawling entrance lobby—with its centralized computer check-in kiosk—to the corner waiting rooms, the architects made the public spaces bright and welcoming. The designers also chose light-colored finishes, unusual for such a highly trafficked building, with touches of wood. Patients with brain injuries or neurological disorders can get easily disoriented; artwork throughout features clean, graphic lines and immediately discernible shapes. This type of attention was carried to the landscaping as well. A mobility garden offers patients undergoing rehabilitation an opportunity to improve strength and balance by walking on uneven surfaces in an outdoor setting.
Equal consideration was given to staff areas. Their top-floor offices open onto generous terraces with outdoor seating and views to the neighboring foothills, and to the building that inspired their own.
Exam rooms are configured into pods of care to allow clinical teams to function in a multidisciplinary fashion. Seven-foot-wide corridors ease circulation through the clinical areas and provide nooks for seating. An area for infusion therapy on the second floor offers patients daylight-filled spaces with views, since they can spend up to eight hours receiving medication there.
In fact, patients often pass an entire day at the facility, which streamlines the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders by consolidating all aspects of the healing process in one building. “We own the complexity and the coordination,” explains Mark Tortorich, Stanford Health Care’s vice president of Planning, Design and Construction. It is a chief reason the neuroscience department opted to give up its spread-out spaces on Stanford’s main campus. Here, the dedicated building becomes a one-stop destination where patients, up to 300 a day, come to see multiple doctors, receive rehabilitation therapy, or get a scan in a single visit.
With 16-foot-high ceilings, the basement level accommodates the large equipment for MRI and PET scans, including magnets that can weigh over 20,000 pounds. Walls, however, are flexible, to allow this equipment to change every few years as technology advances.
The one confined space in the building is on the second floor. Designed like a sauna, with a dressing area and shower suite, a special laboratory offers controlled temperature, humidity, and airflow. The first-of-its-kind custom-built thermoregulatory sweat test room diagnoses conditions such as autonomic and small fiber neuropathy and impairment in other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
The architects’ two-pronged effort is commendable. They provided interior spaces for innovative research and state-of-the-art technology with a noninstitutional-looking design; at the same time, they integrated the low-budget, modest building into its pastoral, and historic, campus.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Alyosha Verzhbinsky, FAIA, Principal In Charge (RA)
Architect of record:
Degenkolb Engineers, Structural
BFS Landscape Architects, Landscape
Architecture + Light, Lighting Design
Charles M. Salter Associates, Acoustic Engineering
Emily Borland, Specifications
Propp + Guerin, Signage
Cahill Contractors, Inc.
Photographs ©2016 Bruce Damonte, (415) 845-6919
Stanford Health Care
95,000 square feet
Distributed moment frame
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project: Conxtech ConXL System
Metal panels: 1/8" thick aluminum panels by Overgaard Ltd.
Metal/glass curtain wall: C/S Erectors, Overgaard Ltd.
Rainscreen: NBK Terracotta panels, 8" courses, color: 7.01
Precast concrete: None
Wood: Pau Lope
EIFS, ACM, or other: Plaster (Cement), Integral Color – Medium finish BMI 400
Moisture barrier: WR Grace
Curtain wall: Overgaard Ltd.
Other cladding unique to this project: N/A
Built-up roofing: Johns Manville
Metal frame: Overgaard Ltd. Aluminum strip windows on west, south facades
Glass: Viracon — Vision glass; Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope — Shadow boxes of curtain wall
Level 4 Exterior Sun Shades: Overgaard Ltd, C/S Erectors
Entrances: Horton Type 110
Metal doors: Stiles
Wood doors: Algoma
Sliding doors: AD Systems
Fire-control doors, security grilles: Cookson
Exit devices: Sargent
Pulls: Sargent / Rockwood
Security devices: By various manufacturers
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong: 2x4, 2x2 Ultima Regular
Suspension grid: Armstrong: Interlude XL
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Northwestern Design NWD
Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams & Frazee Paints
Wall coverings: Anigre Wall Covering in lobbies
Plastic laminate: Formica, Wilson Art
Solid surfacing: Silestone, solid surface countertops
Special surfacing: Maharam uphholstery
Floor and wall tile: TOILETS
Resilient flooring: Forbo-Marmoleum
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Recycled wood block floors in the supportive services @ Level 1
Office furniture: Steelcase
Reception furniture: WAITING AREAS
Fixed seating: N/A
Other furniture: Credenzas -- Coalesse
Interior ambient lighting: Various vendors
Downlights: Cooper Lighting 4" LED
Tasklighting: Under Cabinet @ Exam rooms = Philips Day-brite T5
Exterior: Gardco -- Form 10 Square -- 25' Tall
Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron
Elevators/escalators: Kone EcoSpace 3500
Faucets: Chicago, Kohler
Water Dispensers: Insinkerator
Clinical Sink: Kohler
Drinking Fountain: Haws