Revitalizing Parnassus Heights
Revolutionary advances in science and technology are yielding life-saving breakthroughs in health care. On the edge of innovation, UCSF is redefining what’s possible through novel therapies and treatments that improve lives in San Francisco, the Bay Area and beyond.
For more than a century, UCSF at Parnassus Heights has been the birthplace of world-class research, a top-ranked training ground for care professionals and scientists, and the destination for complex care that only UCSF can provide. Today, we are excited to embark on the first phase of our Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan.
The plan outlines design principles and concepts to reshape and revitalize UCSF’s oldest campus over the next several decades. The transformation will be completed in phases and in parallel with the development of a new, state-of-the-art hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights that was jumpstarted by a $500 million commitment from the Helen Diller Foundation in 2018.
Serving San Francisco and the Bay Area
The shared history of San Francisco and UCSF spans more than a century of partnership in ensuring the health of the city we call home. From the 1906 earthquake to the HIV epidemic to COVID-19, we have worked together to serve the health care needs of San Francisco’s diverse communities during public health crises and every year in between.
To keep pace with the city’s growing health care needs, we are making plans to replace and renovate some of our outdated and seismically vulnerable buildings. State-of-the-art facilities will strengthen UCSF’s renowned research and training programs, and include a modern hospital with more capacity so that we no longer have to turn away patients because we don’t have enough beds.
UCSF’s Parnassus Heights campus has continued to evolve since it began 120 year ago. First: The campus when it first emerged as the Affiliated Colleges. Second: Model Ts parked along Parnassus Avenue. Third: A crowd gathered for the opening of Moffitt Hospital in 1955.
Heritage and Civic Pride
At UCSF we are proud of our San Francisco heritage. We are designing our future campus and hospital to improve the daily experience of both our neighbors and the UCSF community. With input from all of our stakeholders, we will make investments in housing and transportation solutions, and broaden access to the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve for all to enjoy.
Parnassus Heights is more than where we work, study and provide care. It’s the neighborhood where UCSF was born more than 120 years ago, and where many of us live today. We are committed to preserving our neighborhood’s cultural vitality and bolstering San Francisco’s civic pride through our mission to serve the public.
Pivotal Role in the Health Care Landscape
UCSF plays a pivotal role in the Bay Area’s health care landscape. Many patients come here, or are sent by their care providers, for specialized and complex care they cannot receive at local community hospitals. For more than two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UCSF the best hospital in Northern California and among the top 10 across the country.
In recent years, however, we have been operating at maximum capacity and presently UCSF must turn away thousands of patients who seek our care. This year, that number will approach 3,000 people. With California’s population projected to grow over the next decade — including among the elderly, who typically require specialized care — UCSF is building a modern hospital to address this critical capacity shortage.
Our reimagined Parnassus Heights campus will continue to combine world-class research and teaching with a new, state-of-the-art hospital to offer both hope and treatment to patients most in need.
To illustrate, here is the story of a patient who was out of options before coming to UCSF, and the positive outcome from the care he received.
Continual Healing and Innovation
When it opens in 2030, the future hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center will offer a welcoming environment for continual healing and innovation. Its contemporary design will facilitate care in the 21st century and include patient rooms that offer greater privacy and infection control. New physical spaces connecting the hospital and campus will foster greater convergence between care providers, scientists, faculty, and learners—to better leverage the synergies that have led UCSF to decades of groundbreaking treatments and therapies.
Partnering with Our Neighbors
We began our Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan (CPHP) community engagement process in July 2018 by engaging thousands of neighbors, community leaders, merchants, city representatives and staff through a multilingual survey, as well as working group meetings and open houses. With our Parnassus Heights campus located in the heart of the dynamic city of San Francisco, we are committed to working collaboratively with the community and the city to address the impact of the development in the neighborhood.
In this initial phase, we learned what’s most important to our neighbors and how we could best serve the neighborhood with a renovated campus. We will continue partnering with our neighbors, the broader community and the city to help address common challenges facing all growing cities, such as housing and transportation.
Community Ideas Report
The Community Ideas Report was produced in June 2019 as a result of our initial outreach. It is part of the overall CPHP, which we issued in October 2019. The report identifies the six focus areas of housing, campus design, connectivity with nature, multi-modal mobility, public realm, and programs and amenities that benefit the neighborhood.
After concluding the first phase of our community engagement process, we began working with key stakeholders to discuss potential impacts of the CPHP and neighborhood concerns. To facilitate this effort, we formed the Advisory Committee on the Future of Parnassus Heights, which is comprised of community leaders, neighbors, merchants, and city and non-profit representatives who live or work near the UCSF Parnassus Heights Campus.
Through a series of meetings and open houses, this partnership is working toward a community investments package, including the specific actions UCSF will take to create a campus that enhances the neighborhood and quality of life for the surrounding community.
Committed to a Stronger Community
At UCSF we are proud of our public mission and our longstanding commitment to serve the community. A re-envisioned Parnassus Heights campus will allow us to strengthen our contributions to the city we call home.
Our neighbors will have access to increased services, including cultural and educational events, farmers markets, health and wellness programs and new retail and food options, in addition to the only emergency services on the city’s west side. The new campus and hospital will also strengthen the local economy and create more jobs.
The campus design will feature a “park to peak” model, providing greater access to Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve and trails. Newly designed buildings and more open spaces will enhance the natural beauty of the area, and navigation from Golden Gate Park across campus to Mount Sutro will become more convenient.
As part of our commitment to the community, we are continuing to work with city and community leaders to address the potential challenges of our planned development. We will increase on-campus housing options, and we are exploring with the city ways to ease traffic through safe and efficient transportation options, strategies to mitigate traffic, and employee work-at-home solutions to lower the on-campus population.
Support for the Plan
UCSF is planning to build a new hospital and update UCSF's oldest campus to care for more patients, enhance health professional training, advance research, and expand services to the community. The Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan is supported by many neighbors, patients, health advocates and community groups, including:
- Congresswoman Jackie Speier
- State Senator Scott Wiener
- Assemblymember Phil Ting
- Assemblymember David Chiu
- Assemblymember Kevin Mullin
- Assemblymember Marc Levine
- San Francisco Marin Medical Society
- Hospital Council Northern & Central California, SF Section
- California Life Sciences Association
- California Pharmacists Association
- SF Bay Area Physician Assistants
- Golden-Gate Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists
- Mission Hiring Hall
- Charity Cultural Services Center
- Grow SF
- SF Bicycle Coalition
- SF Housing Action Coalition
- Inner Sunset Park Neighbors Board of Directors
- Haight Ashbury Neighbors for Density
- SF YIMBY
- SF Westside Transportation and Accessibility Coalition
- SF Urban Riders
- The Bay Area Council
- SF Chamber of Commerce
- SF African American Chamber of Commerce
- SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- SF Filipino American Chamber of Commerce
- SF Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
- Alumni Association of UCSF
Parnassus Heights Neighbors
“The campus is an important part of our neighborhood, and needs continual attention to remain a good setting for both community and science. The long-span and ambitious scope of the CPHP are admirable and appropriate for this world-class institution.”
Inner Sunset neighbor, UCSF Community Advisory Group member
“The plan was developed with the input from myself and neighbors like me and is reflective of both the University’s mission and priorities and the community interests and benefits for my community. My experience in this process has been tremendously positive. The UCSF Team has committed to an inclusive and responsive process. As a leading, world renowned medical center and teaching university campus, I strongly feel it is vital for UCSF to implement this master plan to grow and attract doctors and researchers. The vision of the campus is beautiful and exciting, transforming this site into a true university hospital and research campus.”
Forest Hill neighbor, UCSF Advisory Committee member
“As the community engagement process has progressed, and varied community voices have been heard, my sense is that UCSF has listened to community input and become increasingly responsive, thoughtful and creative in its responses, for example with respect to housing — proposing more housing on the Aldea site and along 4th Street (both of which I strongly support), offering to work with the City to support increased housing on the West side of San Francisco, plus other approaches to increasing workforce housing opportunities.”
Cole Valley neighbor, UCSF Advisory Committee member
“UCSF is a powerful contributor within San Francisco’s economic and social landscape. As a top job creator and the second largest employer in the City and County, UCSF contributes to San Francisco’s energy and 'innovation ecosystem,' attracting world-class talent to live, work, and study. As San Francisco recovers from the economic toll of COVID-19, UCSF’s thirty-year plan will be a key economic driver in rebuilding our workforce.”
San Francisco Filipino American Chamber of CommerceWebsite
“The UCSF Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan improves upon the existing condition of the campus by drastically increasing the amount of housing on-site, expanding medical and research capacity with new state-of-the-art facilities, and improving the public realm for the community. On behalf of the Bay Area Council, we urge you to support this project.”
Bay Area Council
“San Francisco Marin Medical Society is pleased to support the proposed Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan. It is our belief that this redevelopment is necessary if the physician community that we represent is to continue to provide excellent care to San Francisco and Marin Counties.”
San Francisco Marin Medical Society
"As a parent, UCSF is where I bring my child when she is sick. As a physician, I am amazed by the skill and compassion of the nurses, physicians, therapists, and staff who all work together to take care of some of the most ill patients in California. As a researcher, I am proud to be part of a team advancing how we will take care of patients tomorrow."
Sachin Shah, MD, MPH
UCSF Assistant Professor of Medicine and Patient
“As an institution that serves the people of San Francisco in many ways (including a strong partnership with the City and County of San Francisco to address the Covid-19 crisis in which we have been far more successful than any other major city in the US as a result of this close partnership) and that is a major economic engine for the City, we need to modernize our campus to support our work now and into the future.”
Steven Pantilat, MD
Parnassus Heights neighbor, UCSF Professor of Medicine
“The facilities at UCSF are outdated and are in desperate need of being upgraded. I'm very excited about the careful and thoughtful plans to have the campus buildings and facilities match the special excellence of its faculty, staff, and trainees.”
Ellen Haller, MD
Parnassus Heights neighbor, UCSF Professor Emeritus
Visual Concepts for the Future Campus
Refreshed garage facades, improved vertical circulation, and clear wayfinding enhance the arrival experience for all visitors.
A new east-west promenade takes advantage of the elevated topography, improves functionality, and creates unique viewpoints to foster serendipitous encounters.
Saunders Court is expanded as the “heart” of campus, a place of social gathering that fosters an interactive academic health center and research community.
Existing buildings can be renovated to meet contemporary standards and create modernized, refreshed work environments.
The public space expands to welcome visitors with a variety of comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces, designed for year-round functionality.