Advanced Technologies Aid Design Team–and Patients–at New Kaiser Permanente Hospital

By: Eyal Perchik and Michael Johnson


The design for the Kaiser Permanente San Diego facility began in February of 2012. The direction given to the design team by the client was to implement a design based on understanding the latest Kaiser Anaheim template hospital plans using existing Kaiser functional programs and planning guidelines. This direction enabled the design team to dramatically shorten the design stage of the project, along with a continuous and concurrent review process with OSHPD, Kaiser Permanente’s project leadership representatives and Hensel Phelps as the selected General Contractor and major subcontractors.

This procedure enabled design and implementation of all major design innovations and major decisions to occur in 6.5 months, versus the more traditional methods which typically could last close to a year and a half, mainly due to a more focused interaction with key client members in lieu of the more traditional and lengthy separate user meetings.

Integrated Design / Coordination / Regulatory Review


Project Design and OSHPD Review Schedule

An extensive and collaborative OSHPD review started almost immediately as the design evolved and solidified.  Integrating OSHPD’s plan checkers to the design evolution and allowing them access to CO Architects’ internal servers (termed fondly as the “CO-Cloud”), allowed both OSHPD and the design team real time collaboration and comment/response dialogue throughout the preliminary and final plan check stages.

The 321 bed Hospital building is composed of a Basement level which contains the sterile processing department, linen services and food and nutrition department. The First Level contains the Emergency Department, inpatient imaging, kitchen and cafeteria / dining areas, Pathology, Pharmacy and the Clinical Lab. The Second level contains the Perioperative and recovery services, Operating rooms, Interventional Radiology and Cardiac Cath Labs, along with a medical and surgical unit. Levels 3 contains Labor and Delivery, NICU and post-partum rooms, while levels 4 thru 7 contain ICU and Medical/Surgical patient rooms.

All patients rooms are based on single occupancy designed to meet the needs of both patients and medical staff, while also providing a ‘Family zone’ which enables a family member to sleep or work within the room. Other features include a ‘Smart wall‘ that provides entertainment, medical record data and other electronic features to help streamline the patient’s stay.  Each patient unit is also enhanced by the use of areas of respite as open air balconies, which are located throughout the patient floors and provide direct visual access to the hospital grounds.

The areas of respite are available for use by both patients, visitors and the medical staff.


left: Areas of respite; right: View from energy Center – West and South towers with D&T in foreground

The site has been designed to take on the look and feel of the naturally occurring landscape of San Diego County. Native plants, trees and water features have been incorporated into what was once a defense plant site, which was later converted into the County Voters Registrar office completely surrounded by asphalt paving. All patient rooms and public areas have a direct view to these landscaped areas.

January Aerial Photo

Overall campus view from Southeast – prior to construction start

Overall campus view from Southeast

Overall campus view from Southeast – recent photo

Energy conservation and sustainability are very important components to the overall success of this project. As designed the building energy efficiency is estimated to have a 15% improvement over the previously designed Kaiser Template hospitals. This improvement is achieved thru the use of energy efficient building envelope technology and active chilled beams at the medical-surgical patient rooms and associated nurses stations (a first for a hospital in California) among several features. Additional energy savings are provided by the use of natural gas fed micro turbines which are located at the Energy Center, and the entire campus including all buildings, are being lit by 100% LED lighting – another first for a hospital in California.  Currently this project is projected to achieve a LEED Gold rating.

View of East Tower with southern Sun Shades

left: View of East Tower with southern Sun Shades; right: View of East Tower corner “Sail”

Construction of the Hospital building commenced on January 2014, and the completion of construction is scheduled for November 2016. At this point the Hospital building is approximated 65% complete, while the Energy Center and Parking Structure have already been completed, certified and are in use.

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