A modern four-story building with reflective glass windows is seen against a blue sky dotted with white clouds.

Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building recognized regionally and nationally for outstanding design


The Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building received top awards from the Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA) and the Sacramento Business Journal.

The Sacramento Business Journal announced the Best Real Estate Awards recipients on Sept. 7. The Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute Building was the top awardee in the Medical Category for an aesthetic that integrates form with the critical functions of its space.

CMAA recognized the building on Oct. 10 as the most outstanding project in the nation for medical buildings over $50 million in cost. CMAA noted that the annual Project Achievement Awards serve as examples to promote professionalism and excellence in the management of the construction process.

World-class eye care and restoration in Sacramento

The state-of-the-art building on the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento opened its doors to patients in December last year. The facility is dedicated to world-class eye care and sight restoration.

The Business Journal noted the building’s exterior “is a modern synthesis of glass and wood. Inside, the center combines natural light and nature-themed art that’s designed to provide a calming environment. Outside, there are spots to relax, including a promenade plaza that features artwork and seating as well as a third-floor terrace.”

The 78,500-square-foot building is an addition to the existing Ambulatory Care Center, which underwent a partial renovation. The four-story structure includes dedicated space for the UC Davis Eye Center clinic and operations, physician offices and conference areas. The third floor houses the Division of Pain Medicine, with clinic exam rooms and procedure rooms.  

The new facility was started with an initial $18.5 million gift from philanthropist Ernest E. Tschannen, whose sight was restored at the Eye Center. His continued to donate and his contributions now exceed $38.5 million.

HGA, in partnership with TEF Design and Chris Downey, were architects for the building. McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. and Vanir Construction Management handled the construction. The building cost $90.5 million to complete.

Downey, who lost his sight in 2008, has dedicated his career to improving environments for people with vision-impairment. He and a consulting team worked closely with UC Davis Eye Center clinicians and scientists to fully incorporate their unique needs for the space, aiming for an aesthetic that integrated form with critical functions.

Some examples of design features for people with low vision include high-contrast colors and textures for easier navigation, signage with larger, easier-to-read fonts and a grassy outdoor area for patients with seeing eye dogs.

The UC Davis Eye Center
The UC Davis Eye Center provides world-class eye care, pioneers collaborative vision research, and trains the next generation of specialists and investigators to become leaders in the Sacramento region and beyond. The Eye Center team aims to transform vision care and develop cures for blinding eye diseases, from cornea to cortex.

Clinical Trials at UC Davis