In partnership with HGA, Snøhetta is leading the overall design and landscape for the new Parnassus Research and Academic Building (PRAB) at University of California, San Francisco. To revitalize UCSF’s century-old Parnassus Heights campus, the new PRAB will be equal parts public infrastructure, restorative habitat, and academic institution.
University of California, San Francisco
At the heart of the project is the notion of "park to peak" which has become a driver for the design, experience, and function of the new space. Acting as a bridge between the neighborhood and nature, the campus enhancements will include improved pedestrian access through the campus, reduced vehicular traffic along Parnassus Avenue, in addition to an opening in the street wall to Mount Sutro. The PRAB building will become part of a larger public trail network connecting Golden Gate Park with over 5 miles of hiking trails within the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, one of the city's wildest and most beautiful green spaces.
Inspired by the unique maritime climate of San Francisco, the upper register of the building reflects the atmospheric and shifting forms of the horizon. Taking influence from the surrounding forests of Mount Sutro, the earthy lower register of the building opens up PRAB to the public realm through a cascading series of vegetated slopes, stairs, and public elevators that provide an accessible means to bringing people into the building and through the landscape.
The new 9-floor PRAB project will replace University Hall, UCSF’s oldest building at Parnassus Heights, setting the stage for future campus development with a focus on people and impactful innovation. One key component at PRAB will be UCSF’s CoLabs, a concept that will bring together several previously separate core laboratories into a new model for research collaboration.
While the bulk of the PRAB will be for researchers, an estimated 11,000 square feet is programmed for educational uses. Students will be able to work in labs and attend classes under one roof. Classrooms will be accessible and flexible, to accommodate small seminars and large lectures, enabling telepresence, so a lecture can include people from Mission Bay or other locales to offer a virtual learning experience. The classrooms will also be available as a community resource to be rented out for events and seminars.
The Parnassus Research and Academic Building is expected to open in 2027.