Jacobs medical centre is a medical facility located in San Diego, United States. The building is considered an innovation in both the architectural and medical fields. It covers 509,500 ft. square taking up 10-stories. Before getting into the design, let’s get a glimpse of what the centre serves. The centre provides the community unprecedented access to different medical and research fields, collaborating with doctors, nurses, and engineers. Moreover, the centre hosts three specialities, including; pregnancy and childbirth care, cancer care, and advanced surgical care, which makes it the world’s-class medical destination for patient-first care. Furthermore, it accommodates 245 beds with high-tech prepared rooms and designs that facilitate their healing process. 

Jacobs Medical Center, San Diego, United States_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff

1. The Design:

Jacobs medical centre is located near Thornton Pavilion to complement its geometry by contrasting the scale. The building takes an irregular curvilinear form that results in various setbacks and cantilevers, giving the designers the luxury of inserting terraces and gardens to bring nature into the interior. The design ensures providing patients with a high-quality and comfortable experience. Nevertheless, designers avoided making right angles in the patients’ unit design to facilitate the beds’ motion inside the space. The continuity of the flowing curves is distracted by the dynamism of the form, which breaks the massive scale making the building more appealing and perceived and yet changes as one passes around its perimeter. Coming to the interior also follows the same smooth curvatures mimicking the exterior. Moreover, the rooms are equipped with modern finishes. For example, the head wall is customized too -seamlessly- house the necessary pieces of equipment, leaving the space with a clean and neat shape. Additionally, each room has an iPad that operates from the bedside to customize the environment, including lighting, glare, and temperature control. Furthermore, it securely displays the patients’ treatment schedules and medical records. Thus, Jacobs medical centre serves high-quality advanced care through its architecturally significant design, future-focused technology, and upscale amenities. 

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Thornton Pavilion and Jacobs Medical center at the back_©yandex.ru
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The smooth curves cover the building creating an interesting elevation_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff
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Terraces and garden created by the setbacks and cantilevers of the form_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff
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The interior mimicking the exterior geometry of Jacobs Medical Center_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff
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Seamless headwall was customized to host all the medical equipment_ ©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff

2. Material:

When it came to the facade, Jacobs Medical centre took great care of establishing a great design besides creating sustainable, comfortable, and healthy spaces for its visitors. The design intended to reach three goals; Capitalize on the view, minimize the glare and solar gain, and simultaneously maximize the daylight inside, which was only possible using advanced modelling tools. Firstly, all the rooms have a view, either from courtyards or terraces, to enhance the user experience during their stay. Nevertheless, the lobby ceiling has curved planes following the same spirit of the exterior facades with cavities among the undulations to install lighting. Secondly, the building has a curtain wall system using fritted glass to reduce solar penetration. Furthermore, the elevation consists of a point-fixed structural facade fabricated with Solarban® 70XL Glass by Vitro Glass. It is commonly known for the triple silver coated glass with Low-e. Solarban® 70XL Glass is exceptional because it balances perfectly between form and function. Thus, it is transparent and has a colour-neutral aesthetic and remarkable solar control to give patients clear, scenic views of the surrounding hills and ocean. Over and above that, this type of glass controls glares and noise, leaving patients with a perfectly relaxing and healing atmosphere. The facade design was a challenge as the glass covers 100,000 ft. square, besides having the curvilinear structure of the form. The panel is from ceiling-to-floor high, front glazed with silk-screened white frit and unified sizes to ease the installation and manufacturing process. Therefore, Vitro Glass with Northwestern industries had to make various samples and mock-ups to ensure the functionality and aesthetics of the glass facade. Citing the words of Frank Forgione of NWI, he believes that the uniqueness of the building stems from considering what the architect wanted and the performance of the building needed. Finally, patients can control motorized solar shading, lighting, and room temperature using their tablets. 

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Courtyards to connect patients to nature_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff
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The lobby’s ceiling with curved cavities for light installation_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff

3. Sustainability:

Jacobs Medical Center has earned the silver LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) thanks to the advanced glass facade by Vitro Glass. The visible light transmittance (VLT) of Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass and Solarban® 70XL glass is 64 per cent, respectively, with a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.27 and a light-to-solar gain (LSG) ratio of 1.85. The silk-screened white frit on Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass and this high performance allowed the architectural company to achieve its design goals and retain the building’s performance.

The building was a great challenge on many levels, yet the result is having completely functional, sustainable, and beautiful architecture. The establishment of Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health completely changed the direction of this narrative. The 245-bed tower connected to UCSD’s current Thornton Hospital and located close to a brand-new research facility is a translational medical centre in the best definition of the word, promoting the integration of world-class clinical care, research, and teaching. The 3.3 million residents of San Diego may now access highly specialized, cutting-edge medical care considerably closer to home thanks to UC San Diego Health, the preferred regional healthcare facility.

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Jacobs Medical Center, San Diego, United States_©Christopher Barrett + Ethan Rohloff
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Ground Floor Plan_©archdaily.com
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Forth Floor Plan_©archdaily.com
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Tenth Floor Plan_©archdaily.com


Archdaily (2017). Jacobs Medical Center / CannonDesign. [online]. (Last updated 20 November 2017). Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/883526/jacobs-medical-center-cannondesign [Accessed 02 November 2022].

Dezeen (2018). Cannon Design creates sculptural glass hospital in southern California. [online]. (Last updated 04 January 2018). Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2018/01/04/cannon-design-jacobs-medical-center-sculptural-glass-hospital-la-jolla-southern-california/ [Accessed 02 November 2022].

Archello. UCSD Jacobs Medical Center [online]. Available at: https://archello.com/project/ucsd-jacobs-medical-center [Accessed 02 November 2022].

CannonDesign. Jacobs Medical Center | CannonDesign | CannonDesign. [online]. Available at: https://www.cannondesign.com/work/ucsd-jacobs-medical-center [Accessed 02 November 2022].

Vitroglazing. Solarban 70 Glass Low-E Glass | Vitro Architectural Glass. [online]. Available at: https://www.vitroglazings.com/products/low-e-glass/solarban-70-glass/ [Accessed 02 November 2022].

UC San Diego Health. Virtual Maternity Tour of Jacobs Medical Center. [YouTube video]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JzcNuim5zU [Accessed 02 November 2022].


A young student of architecture in the 4th year who believes that architecture is the art of changing people’s life not only by the physical existence of buildings but also by being provocative to the emotional and psychology of people.

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