Peninsula medical center to blend with local architecture

A new hospital and medical center, to be built by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, will take its visual cues from nearby landmarks, such as the Caltrain station, and will make use of natural sunlight — both to heat and to heal.

The San Carlos Planning Commission got its first formal look at the designs Tuesday for the 97-bed hospital and medical center in 415,000 square feet of building space at 301 Industrial Road. Development plans, which had been mired in controversy this summer, have been in the works for more than three years.

Residents’ comments focused on the need for a new hospital.

“The project in front of you specifically benefits San Carlos and its residents, more hospital beds will be needed,” resident Ron Collins said.

“The building’s design was a product of many discussions with residents, said David Jury, vice president of support service for PAMF.

“We heard, loud and clear, ‘We want a building that will be a San Carlos building, not a knockoff of something in Palo Alto,’” Jury said.

The hospital’s exterior stonework would resemble the San Carlos Caltrain Station, while the medical center’s plaster exterior would match buildings in the downtown area, Dale Alberta of NBBJ architects said.

The structures would also feature plenty of glass.

“We want to use as much daylight as possible,” Alberta said. Aside from cutting down on electricity, “[daylight has] been proven to aid the healing process.”

Many residents continue to harbor concerns, particularly about gridlock.

“There are pluses and minuses to this whole project, and traffic is a minus,” said Scot Marsters, president of the Laureola Neighborhood Association, a group of neighbors nearest to the project. “The issue is not whether traffic is going toget worse; we know it’s going to get worse. The question is whether they will pay their fair share for the problems they create, and the answer is yes.”

The project had been mired in controversy earlier this year as PAMF and city officials debated how much the foundation should pay San Carlos.

But in an Aug. 3 development agreement, PAMF agreed to pay roughly $90 million in endowments and donations over 50 years, including $1 million for a sports field.

A recent change to the agreement, announced in August, provides San Carlos more money up front — $5 million before the first building permit is issued.

The commission had not voted on the designs at press time, but if they approve the project, it heads to the City Council this fall.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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