Parnassus Research and Academic Building Design and Site Improvements Move Forward

By Marissa Ventura

UC San Francisco’s plans to build a new state-of-the-art research and academic building and rejuvenate the Parnassus Heights campus as more welcoming to the community continues to build momentum.

On Sept. 22, 2022, the University of California Board of Regents approved requests for about $66 million in funding to build on the preliminary design plans that had defined the initial scope and design of the project. The additional funds will be used to incorporate a more comprehensive view of the site and its space, as well as for working drawings and construction.

“The additional funding moves us another step forward towards more fully developed design plans that meet the needs of the UCSF community and surrounding neighborhood,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “It also allows us to meet the objectives of the overall Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan, approved by the Regents in January 2021.”

A Hub for Research and Collaboration

As one of the initial-phase projects of UCSF’s 30-year vision to transform the Parnassus Heights campus, the Parnassus Research and Academic Building (PRAB), will provide new research, academic and education space. The PRAB will anchor improvements on the west end of the Parnassus Heights campus, with a new hospital planned for the east end of campus.

An overhead view of construction near the Parnassus Research and Academic Building
The Parnassus Research and Academic Building, or PRAB, would replace UC Hall to provide modernized research, academic and education spaces.

“The new research and academic building is a critical part of our commitment to foster the collective creativity that makes UCSF great,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein, who has led the transformation of Parnassus Heights. “Re-envisioning a space where the UCSF community can come together and innovate is a priority as we strengthen UCSF’s mission of advancing health worldwide.”

The new building would replace UC Hall. Built in 1917, UC Hall, the University of California’s first hospital, has become seismically outdated and functionally obsolete. PRAB will include more modern research spaces, including wet and dry labs and offices with the latest in technology, equipment and sustainable building design. The building will house research that focuses on immunology, cancer, microbiology, diabetes and cell biology and be home to key initiatives, including Baker ImmunoX, CoLabs, iMicro and the Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine.

The PRAB also will include the School of Nursing and modernized educational spaces for graduate-level learners – creating another avenue for collaboration between faculty and learners.

“As we prepare the next generation of health care leaders who will shape the future of health and health care, we need to ensure every opportunity to make connections that drive innovation across disciplines,” said Catherine Gilliss, dean of the UCSF School of Nursing.

A Boon for the Community

In addition to the PRAB, the Parnassus Heights campus will see site improvements that expand publicly accessible open spaces. Plans call for walkable and inviting streetscapes, street-level retail space and eateries, newly open vistas and a publicly accessible promenade that takes advantage of San Francisco’s beauty.

The campus will include a “park to peak” model, which will provide greater access from Golden Gate Park to the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve and trails. (You can check out a dog’s eye view on Instagram or Facebook.)

UCSF is also committed to strengthening the local economy. The January 2021 agreement between UCSF and the City and County of San Francisco outlined a set of community benefits, that includes increased housing options and job creation, strategies to mitigate traffic and commitments to preserve open space.

“As part of the Parnassus Heights community, we are committed to building and strengthening our relationships with our neighbors and focused on collaborative efforts between the city and UCSF,” said Francesca Vega, vice chancellor of Community & Government Relations.