City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

Wednesday, May 22, 2002


3:00 p.m.

Anshen + Allen Architects

901 Market Street, 6th Floor

San Francisco 94103

Explanatory documents are available for public inspection and copying at the Arts Commission office, 25 Van Ness Ave, Ste 240, during regular business hours.


The meeting commenced at 3:05 p.m.

  1. Role Call:

    Commissioners present: William Meyer, Rod Freebairn-Smith, Andrea Cochran

    Commissioners absent: Stanlee Gatti, Barbara Stauffacher-Solomon

    Staff present: Richard Newirth, Nancy Gonchar, Rommel Taylor

  2. Laguna Honda Hospital Replacement Project

    Derek Parker, Principal, Anshen+Allen, introduces the project team and briefly reviewed the past project history.

    Commissioner Meyer stated that the purview of the Civic Design Committee was limited to the exterior of the building and that the presentation should focus on those aspects of the project.

    Mr. Parker described the presentation format.

    Larry Fink, Executive Director of Laguna Honda Hospital, briefly described the history of the hospital. He described the primary services and programs provided by the hospital. He explained that the primary goal was to provide long term in/out patient care for the aging population of San Francisco.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith asked if there was a research component to the hospital.

    Mr. Fink explained that the National Institute on Aging was located at the hospital. The primary research project at the Institute was focused on studying the transition from independence to managed care and how building design can foster this transition.

    Mr. Parker reviewed the general principles guiding the design process. He stated that the team started by designing the individual residential module. The team clustered these individual modules to create a household. The household modules were grouped with support services to create a neighborhood. These basic groupings informed the typical floor plan parti for each residential tower. Mr. Parker explained that the project would be phased so that the hospital could remain functional during construction.

    Mr. Parker explained that the existing senior housing would be connected to the site via site planning.

    Jeff Logan, Design Director, Anshen+Allen, briefly reviewed the comments from the November 11, 2001 Civic Design Committee meeting. He stated that the formal qualities of the residential towers were derived from studying the existing Spanish Revival residential towers. The regular window patterns and the use of the tower as a formal terminus to the residential block were formal elements incorporated into the new design.

    Mr. Logan commented that the link building was designed to be in contrast to the vertical residential towers. The building spans the valley connecting the residential wings of the hospital. The link building is designed to emphasize the horizontal plan, to be transparent and offer views to the garden beyond, and to gently sit within the valley. Mr. Logan stated that this building was imagined as the "main street" for the hospital where many of the public programmatic elements were located.

    Cheryl Barton, Principal, Office of Cheryl Barton, presented the concepts for the landscape design. Ms. Barton explained that there are four primary design goals for the landscaping strategy: 1. to ground the building in the landscape 2. to create a clear "center" and way finding system 3. to take advantage of wellness research in terms of landscape design 4. to be a responsible steward of the land by aiming for the highest LEED rating feasible for this project.

    Ms. Barton stated that the fundamental typologies of the landscape were: open space, the valley, arrival zones, nursing unit courtyards, interior gardens, the parking area, the primary historic access, new access and the link building.

    Commissioner Meyer opened floor to public comment.

    Commissioner Meyer closed floor to public comment.

    Mr. Fink commented that the process had been inclusive of all stakeholders, the health care community, the clients and the neighborhood residents and that the design solutions met the needs of hospital.

    Commissioner Freebairn- Smith commented that the design had progressed significantly since the last meeting and was beginning to have an overall visual cohesiveness. Mr. Freebairn- Smith asked how the budget had affected the material selection and finishes.

    Mr. Parker explained that he took queues form the existing buildings. He explained that materials were kept simple and they used the money in places of significance like the communal living rooms and the new link building.

    Mr. Fink commented that the design was a exemplary solution that meets all of the functional needs of the hospital as well as the aesthetic desires.

    Commissioner Freebairn- Smith asked about long term maintenance of the landscape design.

    Mr. Fink commented that the more private spaces would be maintained by onsite gardeners and hospital workers. Recreation and Park will tend to the trees on the site. He stated that they will develop a long term plan in collaboration with Rec and Park to maintain the site.

    Commissioner Freebairn- Smith questioned if the site plan rendered a welcoming feeling to the first time visitor. Mr. Freebairn- Smith expressed concern that the site planning might need to rely heavily on signage systems instead of a clear plan to orient visitors and residents. He also asked if there could be a greater inclusion of the residents in participating with maintenance of the private gardens. Could that be part of the therapy. He commented that he was satisfied with the color schemes and compositions of the buildings. He commented that the building forms have a stronger residential quality than the schemes shown before.

    Commissioner Cochran commented that the landscaping is well thought out and is deftly integrated with the architecture. Ms. Cochran asked if there is ADA access for the street.

    Mr. Logan stated that a dedicated bus line would connect visitors from the Forest Hill Station to the front of the hospital.

    Commissioner Cochran asked if the smaller gardens would be accessible by the residents and would there be places to sit.

    Ms. Barton commented that the smaller gardens would be accessible by the residents. The gardens are intended to be visually stimulating and to promote movement. She explained that there will be furniture in the garden and each garden will be connected via pathways.

    Commissioner Cochran expressed concern that the plaster finish for the exterior might get value engineered and replaced with a less expensive system. She commented that that would make the building look cheap.

    Mr. Logan responded that the plaster finish is part of the cost model for the project and will not be replaced with an inferior material.

    Commissioner Cochran commented that the windows are very important in conveying a more residential quality. She stated that the windows as shown seem a little flat and institutional. Ms. Cochran asked if they could be set back further in the wall.

    Mr. Logan responded that the windows are set as far back as the wall section allows. He explained that the budget didn't allow for a thicker wall section. He commented that all windows are operable.

    Commissioner Freebairn- Smith asked if there are any spaces for quiet contemplation or for families to gather in private.

    Mr. Parker explained that the existing building has a beautiful chapel and a garden directly adjacent to it.

    Mr. Fink added that within each "neighborhood" cluster there was a private room for family respite.

    Commissioner Meyer commented that he was satisfied with the interpretation of the new buildings including the link building. He stated that the towers are working well with the existing buildings. Mr. Meyer explained that he liked the rectilinear forms but would suggest exploring some other geometric possibilities. He stated that he still has a problem with the brutal regularity of the window rhythm. He recommended that the team introduce some variety into the window configuration. Mr. Meyer stated that he understood the theoretical argument for the window arrangement however, it still seemed to institutional and repetitious.

    Mr. Parker responded by saying that there are five different window types and he reiterated the theoretical connection to the existing architectural precedent.

    Commissioner Meyer asked if introducing one more window shape would be cost prohibitive.

    Mr. Parker said that it would.

    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith commented that he supported the theoretical argument for the window configuration.

    Commissioner Cochran felt that the proportions of the windows at the core of the residential towers were odd.

    Motion to approve Phase 1 & 2, contingent upon review of: windows at the core of the residential towers and windows at the top level of the residential wings, at the Full Commission Meeting.
    Motion: Freebairn-Smith

  3. Adjournment

    Meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.