UC Davis Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Center Building

  • area / size 78,500 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • HGA completed UC Davis’ Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Center Building as a combination of a renovation and new build in Sacramento, California.

    The new Eye Center at the UC Davis Medical Center will be a place of medical miracles, where the vision impaired are given hope for sight restoration through advanced technology and caring physicians. The new facility houses all the Medical Center’s optometry and ophthalmology outpatient programs, as well as physician offices and conference areas. The overall design carefully balances the integration of a partial building renovation with a major new building addition.

    The design approach for the Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building started with close collaboration with the Eye Center’s clinicians and scientists to understand their unique needs and to establish critical criteria for designing the space. The team of consultants included architect Chris Downey, who lost his sight in 2008 and has since dedicated his career to enriching the environment for the vision impaired. Downey’s insights were key to the implementation of empathic design principles, as he shared important information on the ways in which the vision impaired engage with spaces, evaluating the design from a perspective similar to the patients who will interact with it. The resulting patient-focused design offers a comfortable and intuitive experience for all.

    From the exterior, the design establishes a strong identity for the Eye Center, unique within the medical campus context and distinct from the adjoining ACC. Striving to balance both comfort and inspiration, the warm, nature-toned exterior materials at the base and dynamically folding clear glass curtainwall above create a welcoming and uplifting environment. Intuitive design solutions start with the arrival experience at the multi-story glass entry, located on the prominent building corner.

    Inside the Eye Center, the clinic reception and waiting areas are located off a unified circulation spine running the length of the building, aiding with wayfinding and seamlessly connecting the clinics in the new building with those in the renovated areas. This solution also takes advantage of the access to nature with the circulation spine running parallel to an exterior landscaped promenade. This strong spatial organization strategy—along with the use of standardized, multi-functional room sizes—provides the additional benefit of total flexibility for the Eye Center’s clinics, allowing programs to be reconfigured to their changing needs over time.

    The Eye Center maintains a variety of other patient-centered components designed to both soothe and support patients, including common spaces with home-like furnishings to provide a comfortable space for patients. Biophilia elements, such as natural diffused daylighting and patterns and views that connect patients with nature are used throughout. The use of filtered daylighting is critical for the sight-impaired patient population, some of whom have their eyes dilated during their visit. Wayfinding elements include natural materials and daylighting that contribute to the legibility of the patient and physician circulation. Amenities include an optical shop, outdoor terrace and exterior promenade with artwork, wall seating and lighting.

    Design: HGA
    Design Partner: TEF Design
    Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies
    Photography: Kyle Jeffers