Jacobs Medical Center

Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign conceived its first hospital for UC San Diego in La Jolla, California. Photograph by Christopher Barrett

More Photos

Healthcare makes headlines for a variety of reasons. One realm in which the news is overwhelmingly positive is healthcare design, thanks to firms that are conceiving ways to improve both patient and staff experiences, such as Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign, which designed the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, California. A decade of planning and input from doctors, scientists, nurses, and engineers informed the design of this 509,500-square-foot, 245-bed translational hospital, which houses three distinct centers across its 10 floors: high-risk obstetrics and neonatal care, cancer care, and advanced surgical care.

Mehrdad Yazdani, principal and director of CannonDesign’s Los Angeles–based Yazdani Studio, oversaw the design of the complex. “This was my first hospital,” says Yazdani. “UC San Diego felt comfortable with CannonDesign’s reputation for healthcare design and urged me to combine medical innovation with my studio’s architectural vision.”

After exploring many design strategies, Yazdani’s team arrived at a curvilinear form that accommodates the stringent requirements for patient units while capitalizing on views and natural light. The team reimagined the bow tie plan of the existing Thornton Pavilion, which connects with Jacobs Medical Center (the project also included the renovation of 60,000 square feet within the pavilion), resulting in a plan comprising three triangular 12-bed pods joined at the center.

The base of the building is clad with a clear glazed curtain wall with vertical sunshades, transitioning to a custom frit pattern with horizontal sunshades on the upper levels. The curved, stepped form integrates gardens and terraces outside patient rooms on some levels.

Interiors enhanced with technology
Patient rooms are outfitted with top-of-the-line finishes and technologies, including bedside iPads loaded with treatment schedules and medical records, as well as controls for lighting, window shades, and room temperature. Custom white headwalls are a sculptural focal point in each patient room. “The headwall’s panels are removable, providing easy access to equipment and allowing the room to be flexible for patients’ changing needs,” Yazdani explains.

In the blood and marrow transplant unit, which was designed with a separate, proprietary air filtration system, patients with compromised immune systems can move freely rather than be confined to treatment rooms. The A. Vassiliadis Family Advanced Surgery Pavilion boasts the first fully integrated multimodality intraoperative imaging suite. This design allows an intraoperative MRI to slide on a track into an adjoining room so that patients can be scanned without being moved, lessening the risk of infection.

Integrating research with patient care
“Another important goal was to blur the boundaries between research and providing healthcare,” Yazdani says. Offering benchto- bedside service, Jacobs Medical Center connects to the Thornton Pavilion. It is also adjacent to the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, and it will soon be linked with the nearby university research labs via an interstate-spanning bridge that is currently under construction.

“Jacobs Medical Center was designed collaboratively with caregivers and builders to create a healing space that integrates groundbreaking research and discovery with world-class patient care,” says Brendan Kramer, chief administrative officer of operations at UC San Diego Health. “It was designed to connect to our other medical centers and research institutes and literally bridges the work of physicians, nurses, and researchers to deliver leading-edge medicine and access to hundreds of clinical trials all in one footprint.”

Walking through the hospital, one is never far from a window with views of the Pacific Ocean or the mountains beyond San Diego. The hospital’s public areas offer seamless and comfortable environments for patients and visitors. The main waiting space on the second floor opens to adjacent hallways and breezeways, maximizing connections while taking advantage of abundant natural light. Walls throughout the hospital’s public zones are finished with white-to-blue gradient mosaic tiles from Daltile or custom oak paneling. The main lobby looks out onto a great lawn through large glass panels provided by Pulp Studio, and it is adjacent to the cardiac outpatient center, which features a gym, learning center, and demonstration kitchen.

Thanks to a generous art budget provided by philanthropist Joan Jacobs, both the halls and rooms are populated with pieces from notable artists, such as Damien Hirst, Ryan McGinness, and local photographer Erik Jepsen. With the arrival of the UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center, a new bar has been set for contemporary hospital design.


who Architect and interior designer: Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign. Project team: Mehrdad Yazdani; Michael Smith; William Hamilton; Carlos Amato; Craig Booth; Jocelyn Stroupe; Nadine Quirmbach. Contractor: Kitchell. Engineering: Exp (MEP); KPFF Consulting Engineers (structural); Burkett & Wong Engineering (civil). Landscape: Pamela Burton & Company. Sustainability: Ecotype Consulting. Cost estimating: Cumming Corporation. Code: AON Fire Protection. what Walls: Enclos; The Raymond Group; Modular I Shield. Glass: Pulp Studio. Tile: Daltile. Surfacing: Texston Architectural Surfaces. Casework: Western Millwork. Flooring: Forbo; Terroxy.