San Diego State University sought to consolidate all healthcare and wellness services into one identifiable building, including the departments of Disabled Student Services and Counseling Psychiatric Services. Universal Design was paramount, not only to meet ADA requirements, but also to ensure equal access to all. The 14 departments and program requirements were massed into a singular, four-story building.

Patients and staff wanted a facility that promotes openness and accessibility and upholds the concept of “wellness.” Education was also deemed an important value.

The facility’s courtyard theme serves as an outdoor “room” connecting Student Health Services to Aztec Walk, the future east-west axis of the campus plan. The courtyard is also the main public lobby to the facility from Aztec Walk and Hardy Avenue. The location of the facility, at the southern end of the campus, creates a link to Cox Arena athletic facilities and dormitory housing along Aztec Walk.

The courtyard scheme also organizes all the departments so that they are visibly accessible, promoting a sense of “place,” activity, and community. Outdoor spaces in the courtyard allow areas for waiting, meeting, and breaks. Several outdoor terraces, a main courtyard, and meeting areas also are located along the courtyard route.

Patients and staff also wanted natural light and windows that open. Reception and waiting areas have large windows, access to the courtyard, and views of the surrounding landscape. Most treatment spaces and medical offices have operable windows. The building siting allows for optimum orientation and use of sunlight, with overhangs at the courtyard to protect from southern and western sun exposure.

The four-story building includes one level of parking for staff and patients, improving access for off-campus users. The shoring technique used for the foundation and garage walk allows the project to be built within a constricted side-yard requirement. Materials used have low toxicity and are durable, sustainable, and low maintenance. These include slate, linoleum as an alternative to vinyl composition tile, carpet with recycled backing, certified sustainable wood, low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC), and formaldehyde-free products and building materials.

Project category: Project in progress (May 2005)

Chief administrator: Kevin Patrick, MD, Executive Director, (619) 594-5332

Firm: Gordon H Chong & Partners, (415) 433-0120

Design team: John Ruffo, Partner; Bryan Shiles, Design Partner; John Lyon, Medical Planner

Illustration: Matthias Troitzsch

Total building area (GSF): 75,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: Not released

Total cost (excluding land): Not released