Clinic Renovation and Expansion

As healthcare reform laws take effect, many primary care providers expect their patient rosters to increase dramatically. That’s why LifeLong Medical Care decided to expand a nonprofit medical and mental health clinic located in a neighborhood with the lowest median income in Berkeley. This renovation respects the historic character of the building while increasing capacity by 40%.

A former day care center that once belonged to the school district, this National Historic Register building was designed in 1927 by the architect Walter Ratcliff. The $8 million remodel includes renovation of the existing space and construction of a three-story addition. During construction, patients continued to receive LifeLong healthcare services on site.

The West Berkeley facility has expanded from 13 to 27 exam rooms and will now accommodate 10,000 patients a year, up from 6,000. Each floor offers a full family practice where doctors, therapists, and social workers cluster their offices into integrated care pods. For full-service medical visits, a prescription dispensary and a blood center are also located on site.

LifeLong Medical Care connects underserved populations with high-quality health and social services throughout the Bay Area. Because of the organization’s holistic approach to medicine, the clinic treats the whole patient rather than just medical symptoms. Local chefs teach clients how to cook healthy meals in the teaching kitchen. Groups of patients gather in meeting rooms to talk about their pregnancies, diabetes management, or smoking cessation.

Sensitive design strategies respect both the interior and exterior character of the historic building. Natural light pervades the space, which is designed to meet LEED Silver criteria. To encourage a warm and joyful atmosphere, the project team worked closely with a group of volunteers to fill the health center with artwork. One piece is a visual tribute to former LifeLong board chair Dr. Henrik Blum, whose pioneering ideas are now widely accepted as fundamental to public healthcare practices.

In their own words

  • “There’s no words to describe this. You guys really needed this, as well as us.” – prenatal patient
  • “The art here is phenomenal. It must be a joy to come to work.” – patient
  • “I love it. It’s so warm. It’s not like a doctor’s office.” – patient
  • “This is top shelf right here. Y’all have moved into the pros.” – patient
  • “We take a lot of pride in our work. Now we can take pride in where we do our work.” – provider