Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, has a lush, peaceful landscape. MarinHealth Medical Center (formerly Marin General) in Greenbrae, California, capitalizes upon it with views of Mount Tamalpais, the county’s highest peak, as well as Corte Madera Creek and an adjacent 27-acre park.
To address California’s 2030 earthquake-compliance standards, the healthcare organization decided to replace its outdated hospital with Oak Pavilion, a new 265,000-square-foot facility designed by the Los Angeles office of Perkins Eastman.
“The uniqueness of Marin’s location speaks a lot to why biophilic design had to be a part of this project,” says Jason Haim, principal and executive director at the firm.
Opened in 2020, Oak Pavilion has 171 private patient rooms, six operating rooms/interventional suites, new radiology and imaging services, a larger emergency department and trauma center, and throughout the four-story building there are numerous earthy touches.
“The design of the new hospital ensures that patients and staff can view and/or access nature both in the spectacular natural setting of the site as well as more controlled rooftop garden spaces,” says Joe Runco, principal at Sausalito, California-based SWA Group, the project’s landscape architects.
Clad in glass and metal, the facade, which features an aluminum sunshade system, is distinguished by front-facing balconies and an energy-saving multilevel green roof terrace that features raised planting beds and seating.
There is also extensive glazing in the public spaces, even at the ends of corridors, as well as indoor/outdoor solariums that act as light-filled “living rooms.” Topped by rounded skylights and connected to the balconies, they allow patients and families to go outside even when tethered to an IV pole, while floor-to-ceiling windows in patient rooms amplify natural daylight and unobstructed views.
On the north side of the building, a 6,300-square-foot rooftop garden provides views of plantings from adjacent hospital rooms, a tiered sunken garden incorporates natural boulders that function as retaining walls, and lower and upper patios are filled with a variety of vegetation.
Finishes like natural wood and a palette of green and brown reminiscent of the Marin headlands also help soften the clinical environment, just as furniture, arranged in intimate groupings instead of rigid formations “create more of an inviting, almost hotel-like layout,” says Barbara Best-Santos, project consultant and principal at ForrestPerkins, the interior design studio that merged with Perkins Eastman in 2016.
Also key to the design is a comprehensive art program comprised of 240 pieces by more than 50 artists (many of whom hail from Marin) in both public spaces and staff lounges, including a site-specific series of 50 individual paintings by Bay Area artist Michael McConnell that depicts the animal life found in the area.
Over the next few years, improvements to MarinHealth Medical Center’s campus will continue, including a rock garden in the lobby “to allow the visitor to feel as though the hospital was placed into the natural environment of Marin,” says Haim. “A connection to nature, we believe, provides a direct benefit to wellness and stress reduction; clearly an important factor in patient care and family management during stressful times.”
A version of this article was originally published by Healthcare Design.