Posts Tagged ‘Northridge Earthquake’

More Kaiser Permanente hospitals by architect Clarence Mayhew

posted on June 15, 2016

Lincoln Cushing
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.


SC Planning for Health, 1955-fall

Sketch of Harbor City Hospital

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 Opening Day

Opening day, Panorama City Hospital

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.

Fourth floor plan of tower, Kaiser Foundation Hospital at Panorama City. 1961 [circa]. [TPMG P1283]

Fourth floor plan of tower, Kaiser Foundation Hospital at Panorama City. circa 1961

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.

The downsides?

“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.

Panorama City, circa 1972, nurses' station

Nurses’ station, Panorama City, circa 1972

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.

Architecural drawing of planned Hayward Hosplital, KP Reporter 1965-01

Architectural drawing of planned Hayward Hospital, KP Reporter 1965-01

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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David Otey: KP Volunteer Spirit in Haiti

posted on February 26, 2010

Above, David Otey at radio control station in 1990 around the time of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Northern California. At right, David on the ground in Haiti.

Our latest guest blog is by David Otey from the front line of volunteers who responded to the earthquake in Haiti in January. Some people inside Kaiser Permanente remember David from his years as an emergency management specialist. He worked on many projects not the least of which included organizing and directing emergency communications with Kaiser Permanente medical centers within minutes of the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989; managing our Regional Emergency Operations Center during the Oakland Hills Firestorm of 1991; directing the Center to support our Southern California Region after the 6.7 Northridge earthquake in 1994. We remember David, now retired, as the project manager who helped us get our Heritage Resources program up and running starting in 2003. David represents a historic commitment among Kaiser Permanente people on the front line of disaster volunteers. He was there in New York City after 9/11 and he was there in Haiti last month. Here’s his report from Haiti:

DMAT CA-6 Deployment to Haiti – January 13–26, 2010

I had an extraordinary experience last month assisting the relief effort in Haiti.

I joined 38 of my Disaster Medical Assistance Team, DMAT CA-6 (www. colleagues as Communications Officer for a medical response assignment in Haiti following the devastating 7.0M earthquake on January 12. We departed Oakland the next day on a red-eye flight to Atlanta, where we met other responding DMAT teams. On Friday, we flew by charter to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and began a several day stay at the U.S. Embassy (camping on the garden lawn) while equipment arrived and security arrangements were finalized.

On January 20, (after a strong aftershock woke us) our team and DMAT NJ-1were assigned to operate jointly and transported to a nearby locality, called Petionville (“Pe-Shun”ville). We were co-located with the US Army’s 1-73rd Cavalry 82nd Airborne Division (what an outstanding group they are!) on a steep hill overlooking what was a golf course in pre-earthquake times but now is home to 30-50,000 Haitians.

I teamed up with two Communications wizards from the NJ-1 team, Mike, KC2GMM and Adam, KC2AEP, to establish field communications for our medical and support staff. Although no amateur radio equipment is utilized, the scene at the “commo” desk sure looked similar (and as cluttered) to “Field Day” setups I’ve seen (see picture). I remarked to my commo colleagues this seemed like a Field Day on steroids! While our medical staff managed treatment tents and formed “strike-teams” to hike and motor into the communities nearby, our commo team assisted in supporting radio, telephone and computer traffic between our field teams and the disaster management team at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.

Once in the field, our joint medical teams treated more than 1000 patients over four days, including to the delight of all, the birth of two babies.

At the conclusion of field work on Sunday, January 24, our team was relieved by DMAT FL-1. The NJ-1 was scheduled to bring them up-to-speed and then rotate out three days later. We travelled back to the U.S. Embassy in Army Humvees for another night before returning to Atlanta for a debrief and team dinner. On Tuesday, January 26, we arrived safely back home.

Witnessing the devastation of Port-au-Prince and the dislocation of thousands of citizens was heart-wrenching. I am proud to have served with my DMAT colleagues and the American Haitian relief efforts. Much more recovery work remains to be done and I hope everyone able will find ways to assist.

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