Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building: Photo Tour

The Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building in Sacramento, Calif., is the new home to all of UC Davis Health Eye Center’s (Sacramento) services. That includes a range of offerings, from clinical research and training to optometry and ophthalmology patient care.

The facility, located on the UC Davis Medical Center campus, was designed by a team from HGA (Sacramento and San Francisco) in partnership with design firm TEF (San Francisco). The project combines an 18,000-square-foot renovation of an existing ambulatory care center with a new 60,000-square-foot building addition.

The 78,500-square-foot project includes 64,160 square feet of space for Eye Center operations, with the remainder of the square footage dedicated to one floor of clinics for general medical center use.

Eye Center design aesthetic

The exterior design of the facility establishes a strong identity for the Eye Center that sets it apart within the context of the medical campus and the contiguous ambulatory care center. Situated on a prominent corner, the facility stands out with a multistory glass entry vestibule.

A dynamically folding clear glass curtain wall on the upper floors creates a memorable expression, recognizable upon approach.

Warm-colored, wood-toned panels wrap around the base of the building to ground the space and welcome visitors.

The interior of the Eye Center features a unified circulation spine that begins at the entry lobby and runs the length of the building to aid with wayfinding. This circulation feature seamlessly connects the renovated space to the new building and provides access to an exterior landscaped promenade.

Empathic design for the vision impaired

An integral part of the design criteria was that the team collaborate with clinicians and scientists to understand their unique needs. Those include creating increased capacity for clinical trials and technologically advanced spaces to support research.

The design team included consulting architect Chris Downey, based in San Francisco, who dedicated his career to creating enriching environments for the vision impaired after losing his own sight. He provided key insights into the implementation of empathic design principles for the facility.

The empathy-led design includes high-contrast colors and textures with vibrant blues and greens juxtaposed with neutral tones as well as diffused and filtered daylighting, which is critical for vision-sensitive patients.

Homelike furnishings, including varying seating types and arrangements, curtains for light control, acoustic dampening, and curated artwork by local artists and Eye Center patients, round out the design.


Project details for Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building

Location: Sacramento, Calif.

Completion date: December 2022

Owner: UC Davis Health

Total building area: 78,500 sq. ft.

Total construction cost: Undisclosed

Cost/sq. Ft.: Undisclosed

Architecture firm: HGA

Interior design: HGA/TEF

General contractor: McCarthy Building Companies Inc., supported by Vanir Construction Management

Engineering: Siegfried Engineering (civil), Buehler (structural), Guttman & Blaevoet (MEP)

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