, Heritage writer
Part one of this article covers the early Kaiser Permanente hospitals designed by Clarence Mayhew (1906-1994). Here, we conclude with the California facilities he designed and built in the latter half of his professional career before he succumbed to Parkinson’s disease.
Harbor City Hospital (Wilmington/Harbor City), 1957
Bids have been requested from a selected group of contractors for the construction of the new 66-bed Kaiser Foundation Harbor City Hospital.
It was designed by architect Clarence Mayhew as a contemporary California, one-story, “T”-shaped building to harmonize with the surrounding countryside, and will bring to the Harbor Area the newest of the Foundation’s “hospitals of the future.” The one-story building, of steel construction utilizing vast amounts of glass, is another of the Foundation’s concept of the ideal single-story hospital.
The revolutionary aspects of the hospital include the interior central corridors for hospital personnel, decentralized nurses’ stations, separate corridors for visitors, push-button controls for the self sufficiency of patients, maternity rooms with adjoining private nurseries and home-like color schemes and interior decorations.
–Planning for Health (Southern California), Fall, 1955
Napa Medical Office Building, 1959
The new facility will be located on a one and one-half acre site on Jefferson Street, south of Trancas Road in north Napa. The new clinic building will be a one-story, contemporary structure with approximately 5,800 square feet. This will double the size of the present clinic which was opened in 1951 in Napa.
The new offices will have space for six physicians, numerous outpatient treatment rooms, a pharmacy, X-ray and laboratory facilities and a business office and medical record areas. Designed by architect Clarence Mayhew of San Francisco, these new offices are so arranged to permit an orderly expansion when and if required.
–KaiPerm Kapsul, October, 1958; [The Ontario, Calif., medical offices were a prototype for this design.]
Oakland Hospital addition, 1960
Mayhew was the architect for the 50-bed addition to the ever-growing original Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland. The Howe Street expansion enlarged the in-patient pediatric department, X-ray department, pharmacy, and clinical laboratory.
South San Francisco expansion, 1961
Work is underway on the major expansion of our South San Francisco facility. It will create a two-and-one-half-story ultra-modern building housing an optical laboratory, pharmacy, and injection clinic. The 10,000-square-foot glass-and-concrete building is designed to accommodate twelve doctors.
Architects Mayhew and Associates of San Francisco planned the facility with future expansion on either or both sides possible in the future. The “half” story will be the low-ceiling basement to be used as a storage area and for medical records. The new building at Grand and Spruce avenues replaces the annex on Miller Avenue.
–KP Reporter, August, 1960
Panorama City Hospital, 1962
(with partner Hal “H.L.” Thiederman, Inc., and Dr. Sidney R. Garfield as medical consultant)
Unlike any of the other hospitals, Panorama City Hospital at 13652 Cantara Street was part of Henry J. Kaiser’s broader community development visions – he had built the Kaiser Community Homes development in 1948, where he’d considered adding the health plan to the home ownership package.
Panorama City was perhaps the most unusual-looking Kaiser Permanente hospital ever built. Within the seven story round towers – universally described as “binoculars”- on top of a standard three-story rectangular base, the floor plan is a manifestation of Dr. Garfield’s “circles of service” concept.It was featured as The Modern Hospital’s “modern hospital of the month” in November 1962. In the seven-page article “Good Nursing is Core of Panorama Plan,” Dr. Sidney Garfield explained the pros and cons of a circular floor plan:
“We try to achieve a functional flow that will satisfy first of all the patient and, second, the staff. We want to get the best possible quality and economy. When we start to work on a new hospital, we proceed from what we’ve learned before. “Panorama City Hospital, for example, is “Honolulu [Hospital] put in circles.”… It saves steps for the nurses [in this case patients are within 20 feet of the nursing station]; it reduces the number of special duty nurses; it keeps the nurses to a central area outside the patients’ door, and it is particularly useful for keeping patients under observation at night with a reduced nursing staff.
“When you divide a circle,” he points out, “you have to divide it in wedges, and that can waste a lot of space.” The wedge shape of the patient rooms, he added, also poses problems in design. The problem is lack of flexibility: “You can’t design a room just the way you want it.”
Because the only economical way to expand a circle is up, he continued, it was necessary to build the three top floors, which are not needed now, against the day they will be needed.
The hospital design was brought before a popular audience when TIME magazine wrote about it on September 14, 1962:
Just 17 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the brand-new Kaiser Foundation Hospital at Panorama City looms above the summer-dried landscape like a pair of upended binoculars. But the rush of patients to the twin seven-story towers this week was far more than a response to architectural novelty. It was a testament to the success of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, a repetition of the warm response that greeted the opening of Kaiser’s new Medical Office Building at Hayward, near Oakland, a fortnight ago.
The hospital was severely damaged when the 1994 Northridge earthquake struck the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley area. In 2008 it was replaced with a new facility at 13651 Willard St.
Hayward Hospital, 1965
(with H.L. Thiederman, Inc.)
Kaiser Foundation Hospitals has awarded a contract to Cahill Construction Co. for major construction of its 96-bed community hospital to adjoin the present Kaiser Foundation medical offices in Hayward, California. The hospital will have a total of 61,200 square feet of floor space for about 250 personnel.
–KP Reporter, January, 1965
San Rafael Medical Center, 1973
(with H.L. Thiederman, Inc.)
The first shovel of earth has been turned in San Rafael, for a new $5.5 million Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. The plans include construction of a new hospital and medical offices directly behind the present facility on Montecillo Road, and renovation of the existing hospital. Plans of the new construction include new medical offices, operating rooms, delivery suite, and eight intensive care coronary care beds. It will also provide enlarged laboratory, X-ray and emergency services. The existing hospital will be remodeled to provide 10 pediatric, 10 maternity, and 72 medical/surgical beds. –Planning for Health, December, 1971
So, what have we done lately? Kaiser Permanente’s facilities continue to evolve with the times. John Kouletsis, Vice President of Facilities Planning and Design for Kaiser Permanente’s National Facilities Services, expresses it this way:
“The rich history of clinical design at Kaiser Permanente continues to be written today. We are designing and delivering cutting edge, innovative medical facilities that support exciting new models of care delivery, including an innovative focus on behavioral health to better serve our members and communities.”
Or, as Architectural Forum put it so succinctly describing Mayhew’s designs in 1954, Kaiser Permanente’s “architecture is part of the cure.”
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