UCSF Sandler Neurosciences Center

Dedicated to the Future of Neurological Research
From the earliest stages of the new building project, Clark embraced the fact that the needs of the users of this worldclass facility were equally as important to the success of the project. Their team members met with me on a weekly basis to discuss a multitude of items such as programming, functionality of the research spaces, individual user needs, efficiencies, and spatial adjacencies, to name a few.
Stanley B. Prusiner, M.D., Director and Professor, University of California San Francisco
San Francisco, California
237,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 

Home to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Neurology, the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, and the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, the Sandler Neurosciences Center is one of the largest neuroscience complexes in the world. Clark provided design-build services for the facility located on UCSF's Mission Bay Campus.

The 237,000 square-foot, five-story Sandler Neuroscience Center houses approximately 100 principal investigators, including a Nobel Prize winner, and more than 500 additional researchers and staff. This important addition to the Mission Bay campus enhances UCSF’s position as a leader in the neurosciences research field and created a center for learning, research, and new discoveries.

Enveloped in curtain wall, metal panels, and precast concrete, the building follows an efficient and flexible design that allows for cutting-edge research. The foundation consists of over 400 structural support piles that rest on bedrock up to 130 feet below ground level. The first floor is designed for clinicians and clinical researchers of the USCF Memory and Aging Center, while the top floors are dedicated to laboratory research. Conference space and a telemedicine room for video conferencing also are included. 

An important part of the quality control effort was ensuring that the materials, design, and construction methods met all expectations for performance, including water tightness, seismic stability and energy requirements. Clark employed an extensive and rigorous mock-up process to ensure the Neuroscience Center is of the highest caliber. 

Public Private Partnership

The Sandler Neurosciences Center was delivered under a public private partnership arrangement with UCSF. Edgemoor/McCarthy Cook Partners, L.P., entered into a lease-leaseback arrangement with UCSF whereby Edgemoor/McCarthy Cook Partners, L.P., delivered the building for a fixed price, schedule, and lease rate, and then operate and maintain the facility for 30 years. At the end of the lease term, the building’s ownership will transfer back to UCSF.

This is Clark's second project on UCSF's Mission Bay Campus. In 2002, the company built Genentech Hall.


Though the facility earned LEED Gold, the Sandler Neurosciences Center’s sustainability goes beyond a certification. Sustainability and natural elements are an integral part of the building’s design and functionality. The project stands as a new model for sustainability in the research environment. In addition to the outdoor space, natural daylight, and its changing patterns throughout the day, along with access to views, plays a central role in creating humane workspaces and vibrant social and collaborative zones. The design-build team’s unique MEP strategy - planning for current needs, but allowing for expansion - combined with passive cooling in the atrium, and other savings mechanisms, resulted in a staggering 46% reduction in energy use as compared to a conventionally designed research building.

Several sustainability features include, an energy cost savings of 25.7% over the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Appendix G baseline, diversion of nearly 92% of on-site generated waste during construction, utilization of low emitting finishes and materials throughout, and over 99% of building occupants have access to lighting controls for adjustment to suit individual task needs.


Working with a three-dimensional model of the project, the design-build team relied on BIM for more than just clash detection. The team simulated the construction schedule and logistics to visually communicate and analyze project activities, thereby helping to reduce potential delays and sequencing problems. The “4-D” scheduling features allowed the team to verify building constructability by developing construction sequences that linked model geometry to actual dates, as well as to set up planned and actual times to visualize deviations from the schedule.


DBIA Western Pacific Region - Excellence Award, Science Lab Project