University of the Pacific San Francisco Campus provides World-class Learning and Clinic Environments

University of the Pacific San Francisco Campus provides World-class Learning and Clinic Environments


University of the Pacific recently completed renovations on a 395,000-square-foot, seven-story building located at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco’s South of Market district. The new University of the Pacific San Francisco Campus is home to the renowned Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, as well as other graduate programs in the fields of audiology, music therapy, data analytics and food studies.

The $151 million building renovation project was designed by SmithGroup. In addition to giving the University’s School of Dentistry a more central location in San Francisco – at the hub of public transit – the facility now provides a transparent and collaborative learning environment for its nearly 500 students and 500 faculty and staff, and world-class dental clinics for its yearly 10,000 patients. The new location replaced the dental school’s former address in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, where it had resided since 1967.

“Students, faculty and staff were fully invested in the design process and the results are remarkable. Learning is enhanced and patients express a profound sense of well-being in the day lit clinics,” said Marianne O’Brien, FAIA, LEED AP, project manager at SmithGroup’s San Francisco office.

SmithGroup designed the learning spaces to reinforce the school’s implementation of the Pacific Dental Helix Curriculum, which places a strong focus on active learning and critical thinking by integrating across multiple disciplinary areas and using small-group case-based learning as a signature pedagogy. Spaces that facilitate the students’ learning include clinics, research labs, classrooms, informal collaboration areas and lounges.

The facility’s first floor houses a Great Hall, featuring a café and event space, along with a student store, lounge area and large lecture hall. Also on the first floor is the University of the Pacific Center, a roughly 15,000 square-foot-space that is home to four new University graduate programs and support services.

On floors two and three are the clinics for patients, providing the full range of general dental care, pediatric dentistry, imaging, oral surgery, orthodontics and audiology services. Adjacent to each clinic are small huddle rooms, where students can meet with faculty members within the clinic itself – an example of the school’s immersive curriculum.

The fourth floor consists of offices for faculty and staff, and research labs. To support a more collaborative culture, all faculty have moved to an open office environment not typically seen in facilities for higher education. This allowed for a more efficient use of floor plate space and increasing collaboration among the academic staff. This floor also features numerous small conference team rooms and a larger Executive Conference Room. The fifth floor contains the students’ seminar rooms, labs, and a first-of-its-kind dental simulation lab for first-year students to provide collaborative, team-based learning complete with dental manikins designed to mimic clinical practice. Finally, floors six and seven are for office tenants.

Noteworthy are the building’s three entrances: one for patients, who are whisked by an escalator or elevator to the clinics on the second and third floors; a separate entrance for students, faculty and staff; and yet another separate entrance for the tenants that occupy floors six and seven. Inside, a central, interaction stair connects the first five floors together and is used by students, faculty and staff. The stair helps the project live up to its vision of creating connections in a vertical urban campus.

The comprehensive renovation project included a complete replacement of the exterior façade. A new glass curtain wall façade opens the school and the clinics to a street view. Energy-efficient fritted glass allows appropriate privacy, lends subtle color, and expands the view through 10-foot mullion spacing, rather than commonly used five-foot spacing.

“The new glass exterior allows the building to shine at night,” O’Brien said, “What used to be a dark corner of the block is now vibrant and active.”

The University purchased the 40-year-old building, formerly a financial services data center, in 2011 for $47 million. The University subsidized the program through a fundraising campaign, revenues from commercial leases, and the sale of its two Pacific Heights properties.

The University of the Pacific San Francisco Campus is certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.

San Francisco-based Plant Construction Company was the project’s general contractor. Nova Partners, Inc., Palo Alto, CA, provided project management services.

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is the only dental school in the United States offering a year-round accelerated three-year DDS program, offering its more than 500 students degrees or certificates through seven academic programs, including Doctorate of Dental Surgery, Orthodontics, and International Dental Studies. This highly regarded school educates students in a humanistic environment filled with opportunities for clinical experience, research, leadership and service.

University of the Pacific is an independent, coeducational university serving more than 6,400 students on three campuses in Stockton, San Francisco and Sacramento. It is a nationally ranked institution with a long tradition of dedicated teaching, small class sizes, practical experience and a vibrant residential life. Founded in 1851, Pacific is the oldest University in California.

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