UC Regents Approve Plan for New Hospital at Parnassus Heights

Project Enables UCSF to Expand Access to Specialty Care for Generations To Come

By Lisa Cisneros

UC San Francisco has received approval for its plans to build a state-of-the-art hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights to meet the region’s growing demand for specialty care and California’s rigorous hospital seismic requirements.

The terraced hospital has a floor in the middle with trees and balcony views
A conceptual rendering shows the proposed design of the new hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights. Image by Herzog & de Meuron

The University of California Board of Regents voted to approve the full budget, scope and design for the new hospital, a centerpiece of UCSF’s 30-year vision to transform its oldest campus at Parnassus Heights to continue driving innovations in research, education and health care. Regents also approved the California Environmental Quality Act findings and certified the Environmental Impact Report. The $4.3 billion budget for the new hospital and associated improvements will be funded from external financing, philanthropy and hospital reserves.

“When it opens in 2030, the new hospital will incorporate the latest innovations in technology, including advanced diagnostics and robotics, to drive new therapies and treatments that are backed by UCSF’s scientific research,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. “The new hospital has been designed with the patient at the center, with rooms designed for privacy and safety and communal spaces that connect to nature and promote health and wellness.”

Meeting the Growing Need for Specialty Care  

The planned hospital will address UCSF’s significant capacity constraints, which regularly result in an overcrowded Emergency Department and inability to accept patients seeking to be transferred to UCSF from other hospitals. Over the past year alone, 3,839 patients were unable to transfer to UCSF from other facilities that could not meet their highly complex care needs.

By building a new hospital, UCSF will increase its overall inpatient bed capacity by 37% from 499 beds to 682 beds, and expand the Emergency Department by nearly 65%, enabling more patients to be treated rather than be turned away. UCSF also will renovate parts of the existing Moffitt and Long hospitals at Parnassus Heights, and seismically retrofit Moffit to function as one hospital that will connect on several floors.

“UCSF plays a critical role in providing medical care to San Francisco residents from across the City, and importantly provides the most proximate emergency care for residents living on the west side of the City,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote in a letter to the UC Regents supporting the project. “UCSF has also been a strong partner with the City in COVID response and recovery, partnering with the City to provide care, treatment, testing, vaccination, and updates. It is important for UCSF to be able to provide these crucial services to San Francisco residents with a facility that can sustain its needs.”

The convergence of research, education and patient care at the Parnassus Heights campus is pivotal to UCSF’s unique role as San Francisco’s only academic medical center. The ongoing collaboration of clinicians, scientists and scholars spur scientific breakthroughs that have for decades led to novel therapies and treatments in areas such as neurosciences, immunology and diabetes that benefit patients here and ultimately around the world.

The new hospital has been designed with the patient at the center, with rooms designed for privacy and safety and communal spaces that connect to nature and promote health and wellness.

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood

Investing in the Region’s Economic Vitality

As part of its plans to revitalize the Parnassus Heights campus, UCSF is committed to investing in the community. The University estimates that the new hospital will create approximately 1,400 new jobs for staff and physicians upon its completion. Construction of the hospital itself will create approximately 1,050 to 1,200 new jobs over the course of the project.

San Francisco Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who represents the district around Parnassus Heights, also expressed support for the new hospital, citing the caliber of health professionals a modern hospital can attract and support, as well as its positive impact on the community.

A jogger runs across the foreground with the new hospital visible in the distance
A conceptual rendering shows the new hospital visible on the horizon at the foot of Mount Sutro. Image by Herzog & de Meuron

“As the representative of many of San Francisco’s western neighborhoods on the Board of Supervisors, I am thankful to have a state-of-the-art institution that offers life-saving care for my constituents by skilled doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals at Parnassus Heights,” Melgar said. “Beyond expanding access to patient care, the new hospital will create thousands of permanent jobs, including 1,000 unionized construction jobs to build the new hospital alone. As San Francisco’s second-largest employer, UCSF is a driving force in our economic recovery, and this project will provide valuable employment opportunities for residents.”

In 2021, UCSF established a historic Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and Herrero Boldt Webcor that ensures a union workforce with strong local labor representation will be included throughout the project’s duration.

In creating jobs to help address the impact of the economic downturn stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the CWA builds upon and complements the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UCSF and the City and County of San Francisco. In April, UCSF issued its first progress report on the commitments it made in the MOU. The report reflects the University’s ongoing investments in shared priorities with the City, community organizations and neighbors, including job creation, workforce development, transportation, housing and mental health.

Designing a Healing Habitat

An aerial view of the Parnassus campus as it would look with the new hospital
A conceptual image shows the new hospital in context with the entire Parnassus Heights campus. Image by Herzog & de Meuron 

Opening a new hospital at Parnassus Heights will enable UCSF to continue its leadership as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals and its legacy of serving San Francisco’s health needs during every major public health crisis, from the 1906 earthquake to the COVID-19 pandemic, and every year in between.

Acclaimed architects and designers Herzog & de Meuron, in partnership with architect of record, HDR, have designed the new 15-story hospital to address the social, psychological, spiritual and behavioral components of health for a holistic healing experience. The human-centered design will create a healing habitat that integrates with the surrounding nature, promoting physical and emotional health for patients, visitors and employees alike.

The hospital design complements the broader plans to transform the Parnassus Heights campus that will welcome the community, expand publicly accessible open space and offer trails that will connect the campus from Golden Gate Park to the peak of Mount Sutro.

The new hospital can be seen on the hillside above Golden Gate Park
A conceptual image shows the new hospital from the tower of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Image by Herzog & de Meuron

UCSF has received about $603 million from donors in support of the hospital, including $500 million from the Helen Diller Foundation for the planning, design and construction.

The design and development of the new hospital and the overall Parnassus Heights campus revitalization plan have been informed by extensive community feedback and outreach efforts conducted over the past several years. The plan is supported by a diverse cross-section of the community, including many campus neighbors, patients, elected leaders, health care associations, trade unions, business and workforce-development organizations.

UCSF expects to begin construction of the new hospital in 2023 with a grand opening in 2030 in time to meet the state seismic safety deadline for hospitals.

For more information about UCSF’s plans to revitalize the Parnassus Heights campus, please visit UCSF’s Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan website.

A bank of fog rolls over the city during the sunset with the hospital visible above it
Image by Herzog & de Meuron