Golden Valley Health Center (GVHC) is a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center system, serving the Central Valley of California. Through a network of sites, GVHC provides comprehensive primary medical and dental care to a diverse population, including migrant and seasonal farm workers, Southeast Asian refugees, and the homeless population of Modesto. In order to better serve its increasing senior population, GVHC began planning for a new Senior Health and Wellness Center on its Merced campus. After securing a federal stimulus grant in late 2009, Kava Massih Architects and Bruce Dodd were hired in spring 2010 to begin design work.

The 28,000-square-foot outpatient building comprises a senior health clinic, a specialty clinic, an optometry clinic, a pharmacy, and a laboratory, as well as second-floor space for administrative and training functions. The project included the development of 4.5 acres of the existing site for a new central courtyard, an educational community garden, and 150 parking spaces. The second-floor lounge was designed with a demonstration kitchen. Healthy cooking classes will be offered to patients and staff, using vegetables from the new community garden.

To mitigate heat gain and lower energy costs, the building was designed with very deep overhangs and trellises to shade windows. The building is cooled by a highly efficient, water-cooled air handling system. Other sustainable features of the building include renewable content finish materials, such as linoleum flooring throughout the clinics and bamboo flooring in the second-level staff spaces.

As a requirement of federal stimulus funding, the project had to meet an aggressive design schedule to ensure a “shovel-ready” project by the end of 2010. From award to start of construction, there were roughly eight months for design, construction documents, and permitting. Construction began in January 2011 and was completed in February 2012.

The building was designed to fit stylistically within both the existing campus and the surrounding single-family residential neighborhood. With its tall stature, deep eaves, and rich materials, such as cedar soffits and colored tile benches, the building has been embraced by patients, staff, and the local community.