PVA Architecture Case Study: SCI/D Center H-Wing Expansion
Palo Alto VA Medical Center
Palo Alto, CA

A core part of PVA Architecture’s mission is to ensure that all U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities meet, or more importantly exceed, accessibility standards for wheelchair users and others with limited mobility—whether or not the facilities serve Veterans with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D). We are involved in all architectural design projects at VA SCI/D Centers from start to finish: reviewing drawings, participating in design meetings, and providing our expertise in SCI/D facility design.

The new H-Wing patient care unit at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center expanded the SCI/D Center to relocate patient bedrooms from the existing E-Wing as the first phase of an overall SCI/D Center improvement project. The antiquated E-Wing will be demolished to provide space for a new Ambulatory Care Center adjacent to the SCI/D Center.

The H-Wing also includes a new patient recreation area, day room, outdoor healing garden, new nurse’s station, and staff support areas. The location of the H-Wing provides a sense of small patient and staff community. The H-Wing is separated from the existing patient care units in the D- and F-Wings by a new inpatient Physical Therapy Gym used by all Veterans with SCI/D. Calming, less institutional colors and finishes set the standard for renovations to the existing SCI/D Center scheduled to be completed in 2021.


  • 14,000 sq. ft. addition with 13 private patient bedrooms, each with a private patient bathroom.
  • New patient and visitor gathering areas including day room and exterior healing garden
  • New staff areas, including a new nurse’s station.
  • Direct connection to other SCI/D Center amenities including dining room, and therapy and recreation areas.

Improvements for Veterans with Disabilities:

  • Patient privacy: Private bedrooms and bathrooms replace the existing 4-bed patient rooms in the E-Wing.
  • Daylighting: Each private bedroom includes a large exterior window.
  • Healing garden: Adjacent garden provides a peaceful, outdoor passive recreation area.
  • Improved access: New accessible entrance is adjacent to additional dedicated SCI/D parking.

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