The University of California SF Campus is set on Mount Sutro west of downtown San Francisco, and commands an incredible view of the city, but the campus has very little room to grow beyond its hodgepodge of fifties and sixties towers due to the steep hillside. The newly completed Institute for Regeneration Medicine (dubbed the Dolby Building) is a striking example of how amazing design can result from difficult circumstances. The sloped property on the edge of the campus required a technically and aesthetically unique approach that Rafael Viñoly Architects came up with - they placed a green roofed tower horizontally and winded it with the contour of the hill on unique point load footings.
Photo © Bruce Damonte
The overriding design challenge was to build on such a steep undulating landscape. The bulk of the building rests on trusses that connect at centrally located concrete piers and are anchored to the upper hillside. Isolation dampeners are incorporated for earthquake events. An open cantilevered walk wraps the building and a open air bridge connects to the campus eleven stories up. The building also softens the campus with its undulating form, making play in a group of overly serious towers.
The building is broken into four sections, each with its own green roof park. Each section is stepped down a half story allowing for with a transitionary public space creating as the architects say, chance encounters. The 80,000 square foot facility is composed mostly of stem cell research labs, offices, and conference rooms– but the hardworking program is broken up by skywalks and the abutting green space. The HVAC equipment is tucked beneath the building except for lab vents on the roof to allow for a clean, Zen-like garden space and open view corridor. The half acre green roof also helps absorb copious amounts of rainwater and maintains interior temperatures making a substantial contribution to the building’s LEED Silver certification.
Photos Copyright © Bruce Damonte