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A World-Class Center for Restoring Vision

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Healing garden on the roof terrace

Healing garden on the roof terrace

“Conventional thinking can’t save healthcare. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean UPMC can’t do it.”

Jeffrey Romoff
President & CEO, UPMC

Scheduled to open in 2021, this building will provide nine stories of clinical and research space as part of UPMC’s $2 billion investment in three new technology-enhanced, specialty hospitals.

HOK is designing the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital for patients in the Pittsburgh region and beyond who need physical rehabilitation and those who have diseases of the eye or vision impairment.

As a new Pittsburgh landmark on a prominent site along the Boulevard of the Allies, this state-of-the-art facility will position UPMC at the global forefront of rehabilitation and ophthalmic research and care. Clinicians, researchers, educators and industry partners will come together here to accelerate the process of translating research into innovative treatments for patients.

Physical cues will help patients and visitors navigate from their point of entry throughout the hospital. Strategies include providing proper lighting levels related to contrast and brightness, specifying materials and textures that aid people with canes, and using sound as a wayfinding tool. Chris Downey, AIA, one of the world’s few blind architects, is advising the team on how to design the space to best support the visually impaired.

The materials used for the building facade—an energy-efficient patterned glass, warm terra-cotta and brick—respect the architecture of Mercy’s campus and the neighborhood. The landscape acts as an extension of the existing hospital. Visitors are greeted by clear views into the building, signaling that this is a destination for healing, an incubator for medical advancements and a hub for biomedical research.

The building will include an innovative, low-vision, clinic-gym hybrid that anchors the program with an interactive healing center, exam rooms, therapy stations and a central gym. There is a fully mocked-up apartment and street lab where patients can go through simulations that teach them critical life skills. Training ramps and stairs in a rooftop healing garden give patients a safe environment in which to prepare for real-life experiences.


410,000 sq. ft. / 38,090 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Master Planning
Medical Planning


27 September 2018
“HOK Is the Architect for New UPMC Mercy Vision and Rehabilitation Institute in Pittsburgh”
HOK News