Situated at a transit gateway to downtown San Jose, California, served by a future BART station and a major bus corridor, the Valley Health Center recently opened and connects three vicinities that have lacked medical services. The center has risen on the grounds of the old San Jose Medical Center that closed in 2004. The project team was Ratcliff and Flintco.
The architecture features rhythmic placement of rainbow-colored glass fins and integrated horizontal sunshade screens with judicious but extensive use of multi-color glass panels throughout the building. The bold colors pay tribute to Mexican architect Luis Barragan and artists such as Diego Rivera, but also impart a strong visual identity to the building, intended to have an uplifting effect on patients and staff.
The 62,000-square-foot, $38-million Valley Health Center serves a young, multi-ethnic population with a high dependence on public healthcare services. The facility supports a wide range of services, including family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology and behavioral health. It features an urgent care clinic that is open for extended hours seven days a week.
The building envelope allows in natural light but keeps out heat and solar exposure in the warm climate. Visitors encounter abundant natural light, warm wood paneling, clear wayfinding signage and an LED star ceiling. Large, sunny waiting rooms on upper levels afford city views, and waiting room walls are treated for noise reduction. Careful attention was paid to eliminating environmental stressors and toxins.
The design team took a comprehensive approach to addressing flexibility, beginning with the building structural system and working down to the size and infrastructure of individual rooms. Physician offices can be converted to clinical spaces without requiring a remodel, for example. The site will also allow for addition of a new MOB by replacing the existing surface parking lot with a multi-level structure.
Many clients will rely on public transit, and the facility is located at a transit gateway to downtown, served by a major bus corridor and future BART station. The decision to locate the facility at a transit gateway was a significant factor in its attaining LEED Gold certification for new construction. Mandated by the county to achieve Silver, the project team raised the bar with elements including:
Community connectivity – pedestrian-friendly open spaces and convenience to public transportation
Cool roof and reflective site paving
Water-efficient plumbing fixtures
Minimized irrigation of landscaping and use of reclaimed water
High-performance building envelope with solar control to minimize heat loss and gain
Abundant daylight and views in public areas
Thermal comfort with healthy, energy-efficient ventilation system for overall indoor spaces
Reduced indoor air pollution with non-toxic building materials and furniture
Use of sustainably harvested wood
High percentage of recycled construction waste
The designers also achieved a PG&E Savings by Design rebate of $150,000 for energy-efficient design that exceeds California Title 24 standards.