Kaiser Permanente’s first medical office building in Berkeley, California, reflects its “Next Generation” in health care building design. The three-story, 60,670-square-foot Kaiser Permanente – East Bay Berkeley Medical Office Building uses technology and space to create an environment that offers patients, visitors and staff a calm, comforting, welcoming and supportive space. It also earned LEED Gold certification standards of environmental and sustainable building through the U.S. Green Building Council and was recognized as a LEED Top Ten 2021 project.

San Francisco-based KMD Architects led the interior design and planning for the East Bay Berkeley Medical Office Building. KMD design professionals specified three types of Rockfon acoustic stone wool ceiling panels to help achieve the project’s aesthetic, performance and sustainable design goals. All of Rockfon’s products on the project were supplied by Westside Building Material and installed by Spacetone Acoustics.

“The design of this building was guided by our mission and our commitment to provide excellent care to our members,” said Alvin Tang, MD, assistant physician-in-chief for Kaiser Permanente – East Bay. “To enhance the health care experience, we put our members at the center of everything we do. Elements of the interior aesthetic were chosen because they evoke a feeling of comfort, creating an environment for exchange and dialogue. It is a great healing space.”

Rockfon Kaiser Permanente Berkeley Picture 2

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

Acoustics play a critical role

Acoustics are important in any environment, and sound absorption plays a critical role in health care settings. Along with a calmer, quieter environment, acoustic comfort also is essential to privacy (HIPAA) and to clear communication between doctors and patients. This is especially important for patients who require assistance or interpretive services.

Acoustic standards for health care facilities also are detailed in LEED v4, the National Institute of Health Design Requirements Manual and The Facility Guidelines Institute, the health care industry’s authoritative source for guidance on facility planning, design and construction. Rockfon ceiling panels comply with all acoustic ceiling requirements in building standards, including those from the FGI, NIH and LEED.

Sound absorption of ceiling panels is measured with Noise Reduction Coefficient. Rockfon Medical Plus and Alaska acoustic stone wool ceiling panels have a high NRC of 0.90 for excellent sound absorption with a smooth, modern aesthetic. The Center for Health Design categorizes the use of high-performing, sound-absorptive, acoustic ceilings with an 0.90 NRC or higher as a priority design recommendation based on the strength of evidence available and the impact on safety, quality and cost.

Providing optimal acoustic performance with best-level sound absorption, KMD selected Rockfon Medical Plus acoustic stone wool ceiling panels for the patient exam rooms, where clear communication and privacy are essential to quality care. In spaces where conversation and concentration were needed – such as the lobbies, provider offices, staff refresh spaces and collaborative “touchdown” zones for the clinical team – KMD specified Rockfon Alaska acoustic stone wool ceiling panels.

For the East Bay Berkeley Medical Office Building’s hallways, waiting areas and other non-treatment multi-functional spaces, where a quieter environment is not critical, KMD chose products appropriate to the rooms’ uses. Rockfon Artic ceiling panels, which have a 0.75 NRC, were installed.

Rockfon Kaiser Permanente Berkeley Picture 3

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

Well-lit spaces support well-being

“A lot of thought has gone into the design of this next-generation building, not only to enhance the member experience, but also the experience of our physicians and staff as well,” said Edmund D. Chan, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente – East Bay.

“Our member waiting area, called ‘the porch,’ leads directly into patient exam room areas,” described Rita Ng, MD, physician in chief for Kaiser Permanente Medical Group – East Bay. “While this environment was designed to be calm and comfortable for our visitors, it also facilitates staff efficiency and collaboration. This evidence-based, integrated approach to health innovation supports better outcomes and focuses on four key areas: empowered member experience, personalized care, care setting redesign and community health.”

Rockfon Kaiser Permanente Berkeley Picture 4

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

“The facility’s organized for easy entry and enhanced visitor flow,” Tang added. “Clinic entries on each floor have lots of comfortable seating, natural light and ventilation – all to increase member comfort. We have built-in rest and refresh spaces, so staff can take a break and regenerate. There are lots of large windows that provide wide, panoramic views of our beautiful Berkeley neighborhood.”

The white surfaces of Rockfon’s Medical Plus, Artic and Alaska stone wool panels provide high light reflectance. The higher the ceiling’s light reflectance, the more effective natural and electrical light sources are in illuminating the room. Along with the abundant daylight, LED lights were integrated within Rockfon’s Chicago Metallic 4000 Tempra ceiling suspension system. Up to 86 percent of light is reflected and diffused by Rockfon’s ceiling panels in the East Bay Berkeley Medical Office Building. Diffused light reduces glare on screens and monitors, which in turn reduces eye strain and stress-associated health issues, and contributes to clarity, accuracy and well-being.

“This beautiful medical office building has a warm, welcoming design,” shared Judith Park, MD FACS, physician in chief for Kaiser Permanente Medical Group – East Bay. “It was constructed with the latest medical technology, including telemedicine capabilities. The Berkeley Medical Office Building will meet Kaiser Permanente’s vision for the future, where outpatient health care is interwoven into people’s daily lives.”

Rockfon Kaiser Permanente Berkeley Picture 5

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

A breath of fresh air

Whether inside the East Bay Berkeley Medical Office Building’s daylit “porch” or outside on its terraces, Tang observed, “We have some beautiful areas where our members and other visitors can take a moment to collect themselves as they wait for appointments, or just get a breath of fresh air.”

Supporting healthy interior air quality, Rockfon stone wool products also have earned UL GREENGUARD Gold Certification for low chemical emissions. Gold-level certification considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals, such as children, the elderly and those with compromised health. The benefit of GREENGUARD Gold-certified products are recognized by LEED v4 as contributing to indoor environment quality.

Rockfon Medical Plus, Artic and Alaska ceiling panels are manufactured with stone wool, a material produced from natural, abundant basalt rock and recycled content. Without the use of added chemicals, stone wool inherently resists fire, water, moisture and humidity and does not support mold, mildew or other potentially harmful microorganisms.

Rockfon Medical Plus ceiling panels also are resistant to Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and meet Bacteriological Class B1 and Clean Room Classification ISO Class 4. These stone wool panels can withstand the more rigorous cleaning standards often necessary in a health care setting.

Rockfon Kaiser Permanente Berkeley Picture 6

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

World-class health care

“The new medical office building will improve access for the 58,000 Kaiser Permanente members residing in Berkeley and the surrounding area,” Chan noted. “This new facility will not only allow us to better care for our existing members, but will provide greater community access that is nestled in a well-established west Berkeley neighborhood. It will also allow us to grow and serve new members in the region.”

“We have a truly dedicated team of physicians who are passionate about giving our members the best preventative and medical care,” Ng added. “We continually strive to be a five-star, world-class health care system.”

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Callahan via Rockfon

Inside, the facility offers 72 exam rooms, 42 provider offices, adult family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, mental health services, x-ray and mammography imaging, a laboratory and a pharmacy. It also includes a café and two outdoor terraces for members and staff, as well as drought-resistant landscaping, electric vehicle charging stations and parking for cars and bicycles.

Adorning the wall of the building’s staff parking lot, Kaiser Permanente’s equity, inclusion and diversity committee commissioned a local artist to create a 330-foot mural. The mural reflects the vibrant diversity of Berkeley and honors the partnership with community.

“This site incorporates many of the asks we received over the years from members,” Chan said. “We see the Berkeley medical offices as a leading model for community health care.”