Stanford Hospital to create neuroscience building ‘that’s not replicated anywhere’

When patients walk into Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ new neuroscience medical office building at the end of 2015, they won’t have to visit multiple registration desks when seeing different doctors. Migraine sufferers can relax away from aggravating fluorescent lights. And a ground-floor “multifunction” space will provide a facility to hold yoga and movement therapy classes.

Those are just some of the benefits expected to make care more convenient, comfortable and effective thanks to the $79 million facility, which broke ground in February.

“We will create a building that’s not replicated anywhere else in the country,” said Alison Kerr, executive director of Stanford’s neuroscience service line.

The building — currently a big hole in the ground on the Palo Alto campus — is part of Stanford’s massive, $5 billion “Project: Renewal,” which also includes the construction of a new Stanford Hospital, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital expansion, Hoover Pavilion renovation and other work.

Stanford is already a major center for treatment in the realm of brain diseases and disorders, but many patient services are scattered throughout the medical campus. The overarching goal of the new neuroscience building is to aggregate those outpatient services under one roof, said Mark Tortorich, vice president of planning, design and construction at Stanford Medical. For instance, imaging will be housed in the underground level; clinics, infusion areas, labs, rehabilitation areas and offices will take up the upper four floors.

“It’s a fully integrated building,” Tortorich said.

It’s anything but simple, given the fact that 21 subspecialties will be sharing space. But the upshot for patients, Kerr said, is not just convenience.

”It’s an opportunity to tighten communication and have our physicians and those ancillary units work together and coordinate care,” she said.

What does that mean in practice?

“If you come in for a headache, it’s very unlikely that you’d have a brain tumor,” Kerr said. “But God forbid, if you do, you can grab a neurosurgeon who’s standing there because they’re in clinic with you.”

The design process itself was different from a traditional medical office building because of the unique needs of neuroscience patients. The process involved collaboration among staff, architects and, crucially, patients, who were represented in a patient advisory council.

“They were lockstep partnered with us in providing advice, even around things like the carpets,” Kerr said. “If you have a headache or you’re post-op, what are the chairs that are most comfortable to sit in? If you have a headache, how are the fluorescent lights for you?”

One result of that: Lights will be on dimmers, and special rooms will be free of flickering fluorescents, which can aggravate headaches.

The building, constructed by general contractor Cahill Construction, is sited to preserve a “view corridor” of the historic Hoover Pavilion, which was recently renovated and is adjacent to the new neuroscience building. The exterior, designed by architect Tom Eliot Fisch, also references its neighbor.

Steel arrived at the site this month. Stanford is using the ConXtech system, in which most of the assembling and welding work is done off-site. That will shorten the steel erection phase to three to four weeks, about half as long as traditional systems.

“We can’t build it fast enough,” Tortorich said.