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UPMC Mercy Opens Vision and Rehabilitation Facility

PITTSBURGH, PA — UPMC Mercy Pavilion recently received its first patients, ushering in a new era of advanced vision care and healing. The 10-story, 410,000-square-foot building in central Pittsburgh is home to the UPMC Vision Institute and UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

HOK served as the lead designer for the patient-focused facility, working in close collaboration with doctors José-Alain Sahel, Director of the UPMC Vision Institute, and Gwendolyn Sowa, Director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

In addition to collaborating with UPMC, HOK partnered with consultant Chris Downey, one of the world’s few blind architects. The television program “60 Minutes” profiled Downey in 2019. The segment included footage of him working with HOK on the UPMC Mercy Pavilion.

“It was an honor to partner with UPMC on this transformative project,” said Thomas Quigley, a Director of Healthcare with HOK. “This building has always been about providing the best patient care, advancing medical knowledge, and integrating with the community. To see UPMC Mercy Pavilion now open its doors and fulfill its mission is incredibly rewarding.”

Accommodating clinicians, researchers, educators, and commercial partners, UPMC Mercy Pavilion will serve as a destination for healing, an incubator for medical advancements, and a hub for biomedical research. The building’s brick and terra cotta facade complements the surrounding architecture of Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood, while the interior welcomes blind and low-vision visitors with physical cues to help them navigate the space. The design includes lighting strategies that rely on contrast and brightness, sound as a wayfinding tool, and materials and textures that aid people with canes.

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A low-vision, clinic-gym hybrid includes an interactive healing center, exam rooms, therapy stations, and a central gym. A mock apartment and street lab encourage patients to participate in simulations that teach them life skills. Training ramps and stairs in a rooftop healing garden give patients a safe environment to prepare for real-life experiences.

Additional features of the building include:

  • Eight eye disease operating rooms
  • 83 eye exam rooms
  • 10 rehab exam rooms
  • 100,600 square feet of research space
  • A retail pharmacy and cafe
  • Art installations that engage more than just the visual to include hearing, touch, and smell
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SITECH Northeast
SITECH Allegheny