Sharp Hospital

Contrarian Micro Textures

California law is changing seismic requirements for hospitals effective in 2010. Sharp Hospital in San Diego had the foresight to meet the expectations a year in advance. To achieve the necessary changes they built a new hospital and wrapped it around the old hospital and in 2009 moved all their patients to the new facility. In addition to meeting the new earthquake requirements Sharp had an opportunity to update their facility and meet the changing needs of their industry and maintain their high standards as a medical facility. Designed by Seattle architect NBBJ, it is the first new hospital in San Diego in 15 years.

The entrance of the new Sharp Hospital is sleek and shaped like a French curve at the top and bottom. Somewhat similar to a spiral staircase, it is wider at the bottom and more narrow at the top. While this creates a handsome entrance, its shape was a challenge for the installers because it was inconsistent from floor to floor. In addition, there is an S-curve at the apex that tapers and goes over the roof which is visible from the freeway. The S-curve was designed to shield mechanical equipment and a cat walk.

California Sheet Metal Works, El Cajon, CA, installed 12,000 sq. ft. of InvariMatte® stainless steel on the knuckle, stopping and starting over a period of three years as the needs of the entire project allowed them to proceed. Jesse Lara, CSM Field Foreman at the time (now an Estimator), described the parallelogram shape and explained that the overall form curved in two directions.

“To solve the radius changes from floor to floor we worked with lasers and ion sticks to determine the specific dimensions. With no plumb lines we had to figure out how to pick up a radius point and then connect the dots,” explained Lara.

"Once that was determined we could then work on the layout for the panels. Further, the success of the project also hinged on the quality of the workmanship and on the mechanics of the people that built the parts."

NBBJ AIA Senior Associate, Grant Gustafson, designed the project and worked to ensure that the curves only went in one direction for structural integrity and strength. We used the latest engineering technology, a 3D model process to develop the idea. “The knuckle is the building’s exclamation point and we had good trade people along with good stainless steel product made uniformly that helped the idea become reality,” he said.

Sharp Hospital is perched between two freeways and is therefore in a glare-sensitive environment. InvariMatte® is a low-glare finish similar to bead blast that was designed by Contrarian Metal Resources, Allison Park, PA, to bring a subtle appearance to a wider range of panel applications, including wall systems, roofing and composite panels. Stainless steel requires minimal maintenance and is a metal that is truly sustainable, containing more than 60% recycled steel. Brain Neuffer, Project Manager for California Sheet Metal Works at the time of the project and now employed at Tower Glass, explained that he recommended the use of InvariMatte ® because it exceeds industry standards for being square and flat and therefore helped to ensure the success of the project.

Jeff Swain, Project Manager for Tower Glass, Santee CA, was responsible for the envelope. Jeff Lewis of Gilbane was the project contractor.

About Contrarian Micro Textures

Rigidized-logoContrarian Micro Textures by Rigidized Metals, formerly Contrarian Metal Resources, is a micro-textured line of high-performance architectural metals including stainless steel and titanium. For more information, visit

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