UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay Celebrates "Topping Out" Construction Milestone

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay celebrated a major milestone today with the placement of a 1,600-pound beam – painted white and decorated with colorful autographs of construction workers, donors and supporters, along with art created by hospitalized children and adults – atop the new hospital complex, signifying the end of the structural steel phase of San Francisco’s first new hospital in decades.

The “Topping Out” Celebration, a tradition in building construction, recognized the hundreds of construction crew members, ironworkers and others who have helped erect the skeleton of the 878,000-gross-square-foot buildings, in addition to the entire team behind the design and construction of the new medical center.

On hand to celebrate and thank the workers were: San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen; UCSF supporters Marc and Lynne Benioff; Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital; Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine; and Cindy Lima, executive director of the UCSF Mission Bay Hospitals Project. In addition, project architect Herb Moussa expressed his gratitude for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital; his daughter, Sarah, was treated successfully at the hospital last year for a serious brain infection.

A live webcast of the event was aired so that the general public, hospital workers and patients could take part in the festivities. A video replay of the event is available at missionbayhospitals.ucsf.edu.

“The Topping Out was a breathtaking moment for so many who have worked tirelessly to make the children’s, women’s and cancer hospitals come to life,” said Lima.

The celebration came almost one year after the official groundbreaking ceremony for the world-class hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients in the Mission Bay neighborhood south of downtown San Francisco. Construction of the $1.5 billion hospital complex began on schedule in December 2010. When it opens in early 2015, the 289-bed facility will set a new standard for patient- and family-centered health care, safety, sustainability and translational medicine.

“The steel structure of our new medical center rests on a foundation that is much more than concrete. This construction milestone only is possible because of the talented workers we salute today, in addition to the ongoing support of our community neighbors and most important, our visionary, generous donors,” Laret said.

Nearly a decade of work led up to today’s milestone, with UCSF staff, faculty, donors and community advisory groups sharing the ambitious goal of bringing San Francisco its first completely new hospital in several decades. Philanthropic giving to the hospitals project has been robust, with nearly $325 million currently raised toward the $600 million fundraising campaign. In March 2009, The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder Charles F. Feeney made a $125 million matching gift, followed by a $100 million private donation from Lynne and Marc Benioff in June 2010 to the subsequently renamed UCSFBenioff Children’s Hospital.

The hospital complex will include a 183-bed children’s hospital with urgent/emergency care, primary care and specialty outpatient services; a women’s hospital offering cancer care, specialty surgery and a 36-bed birth center; and a 70-bed adult hospital for cancer patients. The combination of children’s, women’s and cancer services will facilitate a continuity of care for patients, with mothers of at-risk infants delivering immediately adjacent to the neonatal intensive care unit, and adult and pediatric oncologists working side-by-side. An on-site helipad will improve access to lifesaving care for critically ill patients.

In addition, the close proximity of the hospital complex to UCSF’s 42.5-acre biomedical research campus will speed the application of laboratory discoveries to the treatment of patients in the Bay Area and beyond. UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, has made translational medicine a cornerstone of her vision for the University. 

A model of innovative design, the hospital complex incorporates the most advanced approaches to patient safety, comfort, and healing. The entire project also has been sustainably designed and is on track to be certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Among other elements, its energy and water conservation measures, green spaces, and use of non-toxic materials will be among the most extensive of any urban U.S. hospital.

Soon, workers will begin installing the precast concrete and glass that will form the “exterior skin” of the building.

The new Medical Center at Mission Bay will serve as a third major site for UCSF patient care. UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus Heights will expand to continue focusing on high-end adult surgical and medical services, including emergency medicine. UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion will become a major outpatient hub, offering advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services.

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