Planned Parenthood Macarthur | Oakland, CA

PPGG’s commitment to high-quality health care for this economically depressed, culturally diverse Oakland neighborhood challenged us to completely remodel the interior and exterior of a two-story, seven-thousand-square-foot building into a modern clinic. +

Our strategy took a unified approach to opposing goals: to increase security against terrorist threats and to express warmth and welcome to PPGG's staff and patients. The resulting dynamic design rebuts common wisdom that says medical facilities must look drab-particularly those built with limited funds for low-income patients.

Although organized in a typical U-shaped plan, the clinic's spaces are articulated in an unconventional way. Four large central volumes with dramatically canted walls, skylights, and a courtyard flood the interior with natural light. In the smaller spaces within the larger canted volumes, light entering from the skylights above bounces off richly painted roofs onto the white corridor walls. This colored refracted light, which changes in hue and intensity throughout the day, is a constant reminder of the exterior world beyond.

Clinic corridors act as streets for easy, efficient interaction between patients and staff. Sophisticated geometric steel accents play off the softness of the corridors frosted glass walls and windows that evoke greater openness. Economical in operation and maintenance, the clinic nonetheless incorporates handcrafted, homelike details and textures that express architecture's sensual qualities. Visually interesting, durable, and tactile materials such as cork, wood paneling, and rice-paper laminates are used throughout. Humor also comes into play in the form of candy jars filled with colored condoms-an amusing reminder of the importance of safe sex.

We saw the required security upgrade as an opportunity to enhance the beauty and functionality of the clinic rather than turn it into a for tress. New security measures, such as bullet-resistant desk enclosures and walls, were unobtrusively integrated into the design, fully supporting PPGG's mission to make women's health centers as safe, welcoming, and accessible as possible.

Located near the reception desk, a small garden courtyard provides a serene visual oasis for both staff and patients. Its peaceful design is the heart of this busy clinic.

  • Awards:
  • 2005 IIDANC Honor Award
  • 2004 AIA Honor Award
  • 2003 Merit Design Award
  • Press:
  • 2005 Spring Asid Icon
  • 2003/03 Architecture