Community Medical Centers, Central California's largest healthcare provider, operates 15 facilities, including three acute care hospitals. Its Fresno campus, with more than 600 acute care beds, is known as Community Regional Medical Center, a referral center for the Central Valley of California. It is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.

This $93 million patient care tower is the first phase of a $250 million plan that will ultimately result in a 58-acre urban medical center campus. The build-out will unify all the key inpatient components of the Medical Center on a single site. It is anticipated that this project will serve as the catalyst for redevelopment of downtown Fresno. The 340,000-sq.-ft. Trauma and Critical Care Tower is the centerpiece for this development. A phased opening of the tower began in 2004.

Healthcare experts from across the country collaborated and contributed to the success of this project: The project architect was from Chicago, the associate architect was from California, and the contractor was from Maryland.

The entrance features a dramatic, five-story atrium ascending through the entire height of the building, offering views of the southern range of the Sierra Nevada. A healing garden has been created in the space between the existing and new buildings. A link to the existing hospital enables unification of new and existing floors for convenience in transferring patients and staff between the two facilities. Perforated metal sunscreens, attached to the exterior façade, shield the building's windows from the California sun.

The tower contains both patient care and support functions. Two floors house patient beds, including 58 Intensive Care beds and a 10-bed Burn Care Center (also licensed as Intensive Care); the new Operating Suite with 11 high-acuity ORs; a Level 1 Trauma Center, with 68 treatment beds; a digital Diagnostic Imaging Center; and two cardiac cath labs and one electrophysiology lab. A two-place helistop on the roof of the building and two high-speed trauma-size elevators allow rapid transport of patients to the Trauma Center, OR, ICU, or Burn Center. The Level 1 Burn Trauma Unit, one of only five in the state, will be recognized as one of the top-rated residency programs in the country.

Project category: Addition (completed August 2004)

Chief administrator: Tim Joslin, CEO, (559) 459-2425

Firm: Ratcliff, (510) 899-6428

Design team: Gary M. Burk, AIA, NCARB, Principal; Bill C. Wong, AIA, CSI, CCS, Project Architect; Erwin Tan, Project Architect (Ratcliff); Jerry L. Quebe, FAIA, Principal/Project Manager; Keith Campbell, AIA, Project Designer; Alexander Faurot, AIA, Project Architect (RTKL Associates, Inc.)

Photography: ©2006 Tim Griffith

Total building area (sq. ft.): 340,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $274

Total construction cost (excluding land): $93,000,000