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City skeptical about Children's Hospital design

Original post made on Aug 20, 2009

A revised plan to expand the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital ran into a skeptical group of Palo Alto Architectural Review Board members Thursday, who criticized the proposed addition as boxy, intimidating and far too massive.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 20, 2009, 4:57 PM

Comments (25)

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Posted by Thirsty
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm

"criticized the proposed addition as boxy, intimidating and far too massive." Where have I heard that before?


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm

"If I were a little kid -- if I was a grownup coming to this building -- it would scare the daylights out of me," Wasserman said. "It just feels immense and boxy."

Are you kidding? Most kids are in bad shape when they go to a hospital. Forget the outside. It's a shell that houses the very caring medical staff who are experts in the care of kids.


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Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I definitely agree with Hulkamania here. Given that children may spend long periods here, the most important architectural issue is probably how the building feels from the inside, not how it looks from the outside. For example, having a scenic view from the rooms seems much more important than presenting a pretty external appearance.

I hope the architectural review board members can keep in mind the building's role as a hospital, and not get too distracted on external appearance.



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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2009 at 7:17 pm

would this be the same ARB that approved the "boxy, intimidating and far too massive" Jewish center?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm

To the Architectural Review Board

PLEASE don't this screw up too.. You are the same bunch that approved the Cheesecake Factory, the Jewish Center for Community LIfe, The Arbor Building, the monstrous condos at the old Rickey's site, 800 High, and the Opportunity Center. You were not elected, you are volunteers. Back off and back out.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:33 pm

ARB members "criticized the proposed addition as boxy, intimidating and far too massive."

And how would they describe the JCC?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by What is with the ARB?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Is this ARB to be taken seriously with comments like:

""It's not just a horse of a different color; it's a zebra,""
and
"If I were a little kid -- if I was a grownup coming to this building -- it would scare the daylights out of me," Wasserman said. "It just feels immense and boxy."

Hulkamania addressed the last comment above.

I sometimes this ARB is made up of failed architects, who are so embittered with their stalled careers that they choose to tear down anything and everything competent architects present to them.

Is there anything that the ARB ever liked? I remember them nitpicking the Google day care and a proposed gym on the 101 frontage road.
I guess they have to play their power games in order to be part of the Palo Alto Process


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Posted by See the plans
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Maybe the ARB learned something from the reaction to the monstrosity on the corner of Charleston and San Antonio.
It's pretty clear the writers above have not looked at the plans and they criticize the people who have. Jokers.


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Posted by What is with the ARB?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 21, 2009 at 9:16 am

See the plans--what monstrosity on the corner of Charleston and San Antonio? You are basing your opinion on one small part of the project. A project that was built in an industrial area of the city--on the other corners are two gas stations and a barracks like structure.
I have seen the plans--they look good. Did you read the reasons for the changes?
the ARB is out of control--they have no clue about what a hospital's purpose is--they are just trying to satisfy their own thwarted ideas.


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Posted by Betty
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

It looks boxey to me.


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Posted by ARB member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

Come on guys - now you've really hurt my feelings. I knew I should stop reading these diatribes from people who obviously have never been to or even seen an ARB meeting or know how to read plans.


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Posted by A Palo Alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

Speaking as someone who went to a few hospitals for tests and surgery when I was a kid, the entrance and appearance of a hospital does make a difference for the patient. I remember walking up to a anonymous, corporate-looking UCLA clinic and thinking "I'm not getting out of here alive." The attitude of the patient about where they're going has to do with their ability to recover and deal with pain.


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Posted by Etaion Shrdlu
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

A boxy zebra? Yet another excuse to extort from Stanford...or am I too cynical. No, I don't think so, given PA's track record. Watch for the City Council to hire a consultant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fs
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Does anyone know what the occupancy rate is at the El Camino/Charleston
development? Not much in/out activity visible.


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Posted by Michael
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2009 at 9:02 am

And I thought you go to a hospital to get care, not see views. Meanwhile children who can use this care will not get it because you are bothered with the view they will see. Lengthy processes and forcing expensive building codes result in: less healthcare for children, much more expensive care once done (will the public option cover those rates?), and less jobs available locally. Is that worth anything compared to a view of a tree, or (subjective) "boxy" appearance???


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2009 at 11:51 am

It's hard to take PA seriously when the citizens rant against absolutely EVERY new building, and go ballistic if it's at Stanford.

Packard submitted a reasonable plan to remodel, in order to have updated facilities and to treat more very very sick children. (There are no simple tonsils patients there).

The kids and their parents do not have architecture on their minds AT ALL.

Do not stall this project with the toxic "Palo Alto Process" -- it could be a kid in your family whose medical care is on hold.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm

According to The Phantom column in today's Daily News one of the ARB members was quoted as saying that " there were many ways to do right angles" while whining about the " boxiness" of the design!!! Yeah. They sure are funny


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 22, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Its not a hospital for the sake of children, Its a cover for even more research buildings, which is all Stanford is interested in. And the cost to the community in terms of space, traffic congestion, noise, and aesthetics hardly makes it worthwhile.

If your really sick go to UCSF it beats Stanford on every metric.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm

"If your really sick go to UCSF it beats Stanford on every metric."

Really? My son was scheduled for complex surgery at UCSF. A week before the operation we get a call from the doc's receptionist. She says he's decided to go on vacation so we'll have reschedule in three months.

As it turned out it was the best thing that ever happened to my kid. My wife talked to a friend who set her up with Dr. Bill Kennedy at Packard. He took a different direction and the results were astounding.

Although he still has some limitations, my son is now able to live independently and is a productive member of society. UCSF indeed!

The City and their ARB need to get out of the way of the fine people at Packard Children's Hospital. Look at what their needs are and add twenty percent. Don't wait, do it today.


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Posted by Two boxes
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm

It is pretty clear that no one here has looked at the plans which doesn't stop them from having opinions. From the architect's rendering in the paper it is simply two adjoining big boxes.
Lots of people wonder why Palo Alto has so many unimaginative and downright ugly buildings. It really is hard to understand.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Who is "lots of people?"

I know "lots of people" who think both Palo Alto and Stanford are extremely attractive.

This knee-jerk anti-Stanford reaction is predictable and generally uninformed and shallow.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2009 at 10:14 am

The original VW bug was one of the ugliest cars ever built but its functionality was off the charts.

The exterior design may not be up to Perfect Palo Alto standards but who cares. It's what happens inside those walls that is the most important point. Give Packard their building so they can continue to expand and improve their mission.


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Posted by llc
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Stanford and LPCH make all these fancy plans for plasma TV's and private rooms but cut the staff taking care of the sick. They just want to present a good image to the public for their own edification. I agree with the previous writer. What goes on inside the walls is the important issue. Having enough staff to do their jobs from housekeeping up to the RN's is what is needed.


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Posted by Richard Placone
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm

I sincerely hope the highly vaunted "Palo Alto" process doesn't result in the loss of the Children's hospital, or the main hospital for that matter, to another city, for example, Redwood City. Compared to what I see being developed throughout Palo Alto, I think nearly everything done on the Stanford campus should be highly rated. Another writer here listed the new JCC "fortress", the "tentament" project at the south east corner of El Camino Real and Charleston, and the 800 High project. I'll add the developing slum at Alma Plaza, the nearly up to the curb buildings being erected along El Camino, esp the one underway at the corner of El Camino Real and Oregon Expressway where the previously recommended and much needed right turn lane has been abandoned. Compare these developments with the beautifully redesigned Sand Hill road from the Foothill Expressway to El Camino through the Stanford Shopping Center, the shopping center itself, the generally handsome Stanford Medical Center,and the lovely Stanford campus. Frankly, I'd turn operation of Palo Alto, lock, stock and barrel over to Stanford to be managed by the university's planners, personnel department and general administration in a heartbeat. Virtually everything the university does benefits its students, its staff, the residents of this city who make use of its services and cultural offerings, and the world in general, through its contributions to our culture, academia and research. No, it is not perfect, what organization is? But, they know how to deal with SEIU, their salary and benefit offerings are fair and generous but not ruinous, and their planning and staff ratios speak for themselves. Face it, without Stanford, Palo Alto would be just another ho-hum town. I agree with the others here who say to the ARB should back off. So far they have not proven their worth.

Richard Placone
Barron Park


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Zebra
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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