Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Designed for healing

New hospital uses nature to enhance care


Interacting with nature can't cure cancer or repair a faulty heart valve. But numerous studies have shown that time spent in a garden setting can reduce a patient's levels of pain and stress — and subsequently boost the immune system to help the body heal. Studies also have found that greenery and gardens not only are good for patients but benefit caregivers as well.

The new Stanford Hospital will feature some of medicine's most advanced technologies and innovative design, complemented by landscaping and amenities that promote healing and well-being. The 824,000-square-foot hospital, scheduled to open to patients in 2019, will feature 368 single-occupancy rooms, a greatly enlarged emergency department, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment rooms, and extensive gardens and green spaces that integrate seamlessly with the new building.

The hospital's green spaces reflect an underlying philosophy of integrating modern medicine with features that address the diverse needs of patients and visitors, as well as physicians, nurses and staff members.

"The architectural and landscape designs of the new hospital are a careful balance between the indoor and outdoor environments," said Grace Hsu, director of design management for Stanford Health Care. "The extension of the interior space through the use of similar architectural materials and furnishings creates a flow that brings the two components together. We are fortunate to take advantage of that opportunity here in our agreeable California climate."

Rooms with a view

Every room and corridor in the patient units and public areas will have a view of the outdoors. Full-height glass exterior walls on the third level will blur the divide between interior and garden spaces. An exterior corridor linking the surgical pods will provide a brief reprieve of daylight between long procedures for physicians, nurses and staff.

A highlight is the 40,000-square-foot Goldman Gardens on the third floor of the new building. The rooftop garden will feature California native and drought-tolerant plants as well as mature trees dispersed among paved walking trails and benches. Located 50 feet above street level, the unique setting will offer inviting spots to sit and enjoy sweeping views of the nearby foothills. The Goldman Gardens will serve as the backdrop to numerous cultural and wellness activities.

The Garden Music Lounge, connected to the public gallerias on the third floor and encircling the top level of the atrium, will offer diverse music performances and complement the current Bing Music Series at Stanford Health Care, which offers regular concerts by professional classical, jazz and popular musicians.

Healing amenities

The Wellness Center will consist of a resource lounge, an interfaith chapel and meditation space, a coffee bar, and guest service lounges, all organized around a central rotunda with work by Bay Area artist Brian Isobe. These spaces have been designed to be adaptable for various activities, with access to adjacent outdoor terraces. The chapel, for example, will be a quiet space for contemplation, reflection and celebration, available for organized activities such as religious services, yoga and meditation. The resource lounge will serve as a break room with access to the internet, a medical library and educational sessions, as well as laptops and notebooks that can be checked out for use in the hospital.

The new hospital will also feature a dog park with amenities for both humans and canines, including hardy plants, a water fountain, shaded seating and even a fire hydrant. "Canine and feline companions often contribute to human well-being," Hsu said. "The dog park will allow families and visitors to enjoy time with their dogs and reduce some of the stress of being in a hospital."

A wide, shady promenade will link the new building with Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford and the School of Medicine, providing easy access for pedestrians and cyclists as well as spots for reading, people-watching, picnics and family-friendly games. The walkway, a vibrant hub of activity, will be lined with retail vendors offering flowers, coffee, books and personal services as well as places to sit and relax. Artwork will be interspersed among the promenade's landscaping, which will include the same species of trees, flowers and shrubs already grown throughout the campus, including Chinese elms, oaks and cedars.

An outdoor respite adjacent to the new emergency department, with medicinal plants and sculptures, will feature intimate seating for patients, visitors and staff to sit, linger and relax.
Conserving water

The gardens are the result of a close collaboration among San Francisco landscape designer Gary Strang, hospital project architect Rafael Viñoly and Fred Kent from the Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit public space planning organization. Together they integrated nature throughout the hospital setting using shrubs, trees and grasses that thrive in California's arid climate and provide natural habitats for local birds and insects. The low-water vegetation, such as Mexican lily, agave, mondo grass, flowering currant, magnolias and black pine, will be irrigated with recycled rainwater and condensate from the building's  air conditioning and medical equipment.

"Our decisions about what to plant and how to maintain the grounds resonate with our philosophy of how we take care of our patients," Hsu said. "Every aspect of the new hospital is about health and healing."

Learn more about the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project at

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