AKA: Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - hospitals

Designers: NTD Architecture (firm); Donald E. Neptune (architect); Joseph Fleshman Thomas (architect)

Dates: constructed 1990-1992

6 stories, total floor area: 197,000 sq. ft.

3003 Health Center Drive
San Diego, CA 92123-2700

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The hospital was named for two philanthropic families, that of Stephen Birch (1872–1940) and his wife, Mary C. Rand Birch (1886-1930), and of Donald N. Sharp (1922-1944). Mary Rand Birch was raised in society circles in Minneapolis, MN, who married her husband in 1916. Stephen Birch, who grew up in Mahwah, NJ, became a favorite of their neighbors, the Havemeyers. Henry Osborne Havemeyer (1847-1907) worked in the family business, Havemeyers and Elder, and, through shrewd business dealings, conglomerated a sugar monopoly, the American Sugar Refining Company, that during the Gilded Age controlled about 80% of the sugar market in the US. Birch had his education as a mining engineer financed generously by Havemeyer and his family. Through them, Birch also made connections in New York society circles that enabled him to raise funds for an expedition to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush, where he found an extremely productive copper vein in the Wrangell—Saint Elias Mountains. Mining here began in earnest by 1910. This was the beginning of the Kennecott Copper Company, headquartered in New York, NY, which Birch grew into the largest copper manufacturer by the 1930s. Birch established a foundation for his deceased wife and himself in 1938, which went on to become a generous benefactor to Sharp Hospital system in San Diego, CA. Donald N. Sharp was a 22-year-old USAF pilot during World War II, who lost his life when his B-26 Marauder medium bomber went down outside of Bonn, Germany in 1944. Grief stricken, his father, a wealthy San Diego radio broadcasting businessman named Thomas E. Sharp pledged $500,000 for the purpose of building a public hospital in the city. The Sharp HealthCare web site stated that the elder Sharp donated his money "...with the commitment that the new hospital be named Donald N. Sharp Memorial Community Hospital and 'dedicated to all servicemen who sacrificed their lives.' It was to be a health care organization designed not for profit, but for people." Following World War II, others in San Diego saw the return of many wounded veterans and created the San Diego Hospital Association (SDHA) in 1946; the group acquired 12.5 acres for a hospital from the developer Philip L. Gildred, Sr., (1889-1974) in 1949. The Sharp gift in 1950 provided the funds that catalyzed the actual groundbreaking for the Sharp Hospital in 1953. The Sharp HealthCare Foundation was formed in 1979 to supervise the various clinics and hospitals that had developed since the 1950s. One of the specialized services was a $1.5 million maternity wing of Sharp Hospital opened in 1960. This facility grew into this stand-alone women's and neo-natal health facility, completed in 1992.

In 2008, this six-story women's hospital, one of the US's first freestanding hospitals for women, contained 197,000 square feet and 158 beds. The hospital focused on birthing facilities, perinatal special care, maternal and infant services, and a highly-recognized Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. NTD Architecture of San Diego, CA, designed the original hospital in 1992; the firm's web site stated: "NTD provided programming, masterplanning, architecture, and interior design services. The facility was planned with sensitivity toward the varying needs of women." (See "16 Years After Original Design, NTD Awarded Sharp Mary Birch Renovations,"Accessed 06/19/2012.) The facility won a “Design Award for Excellence” by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. Tel: 858.939.3400 (2012).

In 2008, NTD Architecture received a contract for a $9.8 million "Services Expansion." The expansion would include: "...Architectural and engineering design services for the Acute Care Unit and Continuing Care Nursery/NICU along with related infrastructure upgrades to the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems." (See "16 Years After Original Design, NTD Awarded Sharp Mary Birch Renovations,"Accessed 06/19/2012.)

PCAD id: 1544