Changing the Landscape
Along the shores of San Francisco Bay, just south of AT&T Park, a long-underused swath of land began to realize a potential greater than anything the city could have imagined when, in 2003, UCSF opened Genentech Hall, the first building on its Mission Bay campus.
Over the past decade, UCSF Mission Bay has bloomed into a vibrant and vital campus and biotechnology hub, where academia and industry come together for cutting-edge, lifesaving research. It is also the place where the next generation of basic scientists, clinical researchers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists learn with the most modern tools available.
An architectural rendering of Third Street Plaza at the future UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.
Now, this major campus for UCSF’s research and education programs is set to also become home to San Francisco’s first new hospital in 30 years. A $1.52 billion complex, the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is slated to open in February 2015. It has been designed specifically to set new standards in patient care, and to support groundbreaking partnerships between basic science and clinical researchers that will speed the delivery of new therapies to benefit patients.
Today, UCSF Mission Bay has a daily population of about 4,000 UCSF faculty, staff, students, patients and other visitors. But it took visionaries and the help of the community to turn this onetime marsh-turned-neglected area into a national model for health sciences research, patient care and creation of new jobs.
“Mission Bay gives us new space and new opportunities for programs and to bring in new faculty,” says UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. “It has allowed us to execute our mission of advancing health worldwide™ in ways that had been constrained. It’s a huge uplift for everything we care about.”
The transformation of UCSF Mission Bay into a thriving biotechnology center has been an economic boon for San Francisco, according to an economic impact report released in 2010. The development of the UCSF Mission Bay campus has been a significant catalyst to the San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology industry.
In fact, UCSF’s presence at Mission Bay has enabled San Francisco to attract bioscience back within city limits, growing from one company when UCSF's Genentech Hall opened in 2003, to more than 100 in 2013. The campus is immediately surrounded by a growing and collaborative ecosystem of more than 50 bioscience startups, nine established pharmaceutical and biotech companies, 10 venture capital firms, and scientific leaders such as the J. David Gladstone Institutes, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and the Veterans Affairs research center, all of which are affiliated with UCSF.
“That was an abandoned railroad yard in an area of town that, frankly, nobody wanted to hang around in, and now that is a happening area of town,” Desmond-Hellmann says. “It has an energy and a beauty to it. It has public art projects, a farmers’ market, a beautiful lawn. And the other thing that is so exciting is that it is very symbolic of what’s going on in the world right now. It is a time like no other in science. We are experiencing breakthroughs like never before, and UCSF and San Francisco are going to be leaders in that. Mission Bay is a visible example of the optimism that all of us have for science right now.”
Making of Mission Bay
UCSF Mission Bay began as a fortuitous convergence of several forces — from UCSF’s need to expand from its cramped campuses at Parnassus Heights and Mount Zion, to then-Mayor Willie Brown’s desire to develop the biotech industry that could provide jobs in San Francisco for generations to come, to Catellus Development Corp.’s willingness to work with multiple parties to create something special on the 303-acre canvas that is now known as the Mission Bay neighborhood.
The initial land parcel for the UCSF Mission Bay campus included 29.2 acres donated by Catellus and 13.2 acres donated by the city of San Francisco in a landmark deal struck by then Mayor Brown, Nelson Rising, former chief executive officer of Catellus, and Bruce Spaulding, former vice chancellor for University Advancement and Planning.
An architectural rendering of an aerial view of the future UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.
The researchers driving the innovation and discovery at Mission Bay are too numerous to mention, but they include some of UCSF’s leading lights. Keith Yamamoto, PhD, executive vice dean in the UCSF School of Medicine, runs a lab in the UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology studying gene behavior in different cell types. He was one of the leaders in developing UCSF Mission Bay, working with the faculty to decide what programs would be based there, and with architects organizing Genentech Hall into “neighborhoods” to facilitate collaboration.
“The pace of development of the Mission Bay campus shows the determination of the leadership and the vision of the community at large to develop something that is not just more square feet for UCSF, but that addresses the future of the way biomedical research will be done and be translated into something that will improve the health of people,” Yamamoto says.
“That’s what’s remarkable about it,” he adds. “What we will have, when the hospital is completed, will be a community there that spans the full spectrum, from researchers addressing the most curiosity-driven scientific questions to medical professionals working with patients and moving them toward diagnosis, therapy and cures of human disease. Developing that full spectrum from a standing start is what’s really remarkable about the way Mission Bay came out of the ground. It’s really a testament to the whole community.”
UCSF later acquired an adjacent 14.5-acre site, which is the location of the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay. The new medical center will be a 289-bed, integrated complex with specialty hospitals for children, women and cancer patients. A $100 million pledge from Marc and Lynne Benioff is supporting the complex’s new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, which will include San Francisco’s only emergency room designed for children.
With the medical center at Mission Bay, UCSF aims to transform academic medicine in part by translating basic science into clinical practice more rapidly through increased collaboration among scientists and clinicians, accelerating development of new diagnostic and treatment approaches for children, women and cancer patients, and training the next generation of health care practitioners using new tools and technology in facilities that foster teaching and learning.
Convergence of Science and Art
The Mission Bay campus, built according to a master plan, includes buildings designed by internationally renowned architects, including American Institute of Architects Gold Medal winners (the late) Ricardo Legorreta — who with his son, Victor, designed the vibrantly colored William J. Rutter Center — and César Pelli, who designed Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Hall, and award-winning architect Rafael Viñoly, who designed the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building.
The art collection at UCSF Mission Bay is named in honor of J. Michael Bishop, MD, Nobel laureate (1989) and former UCSF chancellor (1998-2009). Bishop established a public art program to coincide with the ongoing construction of the new campus “to create an environment that will be a credit and benefit to the entire community, a stimulating and pleasant place to work and visit, and a permanent legacy to the city.”
A rendering of the lobby inside UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
Artwork in the collection named after Bishop includes a sculpture by San Francisco native Richard Serra; more than 100 pieces of contemporary furniture by Seattle-based artist Roy McMakin and team, which are placed in the 3.2-acre campus green named Koret Quad; a five-pendant chandelier at Genentech Hall by California artist Jim Isermann; and a sculpture of four large figures, carved out of a single tree, by German artist Stephan Balkenhol, in the Rutter Center, the social center of the campus.
In less than a decade, a number of remarkable facilities and programs have come together at UCSF Mission Bay, including:
- QB3, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences: A consortium of UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UCSF, QB3 is housed in Byers Hall, where the biotechnology industry comes together with academic research, spawning both new PhDs and new biotech startups.
- Genentech Hall: UCSF’s first facility at Mission Bay, this five-story building houses programs in structural and chemical biology as well as molecular, cellular and developmental biology. It also houses the Molecular Design Institute, Nikon Imaging Center and the Center for Advanced Technology.
- Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Hall: The building is home to programs in human genetics, developmental biology, developmental neuroscience and the Center for Brain Development.
- Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building: Scientists investigating cancer’s basic biological mechanisms, including brain tumors, as well as researchers in urologic oncology, pediatric oncology, cancer population sciences and computational biology, are based in the building.
- Orthopaedic Institute: The institute is a major center of outpatient treatment, research and training for musculoskeletal conditions, injuries and sports medicine. It is the first UCSF clinical service at Mission Bay.
- Smith Cardiovascular Research Building: The building is home to research scientists and clinicians who focus on achieving new understanding and treatment for heart and vascular diseases. It is headquarters for the legendary UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute and houses the UCSF Center for Prevention of Heart and Vascular Disease, a world-renowned, research-driven prevention program serving outpatients.
- William J. Rutter Center: This four-story recreation and conference center serves both UCSF and the community, and includes a fitness complex, indoor and rooftop pools, a conference facility, activity center, pub and student services.
- Sandler Neurosciences Center: The five-story, 237,000 square foot building brings under one roof several of the world’s leading clinical and basic research programs focusing on neurological disorders, providing an environment that encourages a cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration. It houses the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Neurology, W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, and the Memory and Aging Center.
- Global Health Sciences Hub: In September 2012, UCSF announced plans for a new building to house roughly 1,500 faculty and staff in the Global Health program, thanks to a $20 million gift from philanthropist Chuck Feeney thought The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation. Construction is expected to begin in March 2013 and will be completed in August 2014, pending UC Board of Regents’ approval of the building design in November.
The Mission Bay campus also includes housing for UCSF students, postdoctoral scholars, visiting faculty and their families, and a child care center.