Angel Island Immigration Station Hospital Rehabilitation Project

San Francisco, CA
Angel Island Immigration Station Hospital Rehabilitation Project

Renovating the “Ellis Island” of the West

Bay Area General Contractor Thompson Builders is nearing rehab completion of the Immigration Station Hospital on San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island. The two-story, 10,000 square-foot building will open to the public in 2016 as a historical site capturing the complex experience of those emigrating from the Pacific.

As the point of entry for many of the 175,000 Chinese who immigrated to the U.S. from 1910 to 1940, the restored hospital will feature interpretation of the medical treatment of immigrants in the wards, surgery room, quarantine room and nurses’ station. The LA Times’ article Angel Island’s Hidden History provides more detail on the origination of the restoration project.

For visitors wanting to tour this important cultural site, necessities like modern bathrooms, fire sprinklers and an elevator need to be completed. Once renovated, the hospital will open as part of Angel Island State Park.

According to Thompson Builders Project Manager Paul Petri, the building—at 100+ years old— needs a lot of work, including abatement and stabilization, seismic retrofitting, historical rehabilitation and ADA upgrades. “Basically, we’re getting the rotted elements of the building up to code and restoring the rest back to how it used to be. We’re trying to match as much as possible to what it was at one time.”

For instance, the hospital’s operating room still contains porcelain tile. “Here we are matching the tile and putting it back as close as before—some tiles will even be the original,” he says. “The finishes are being redone to capture the historic nature of the building.” 

“It’s a neat job because it’s on an island,” says Petri, who oversees Thompson’s heavy civil area. “You don’t get to bring in supplies via a landing craft every day.”

The State of California is serving as the lead architect for the project, hiring Garavaglia Architecture to oversee a portion of the job. This firm is working in conjunction with CA State Parks senior architect Jennifer Cabrera on the historically significant components of the building.

No Stranger to Angel Island

Prior to the hospital rehabilitation project, Thompson Builders completed the renovation of the Angel Island Immigration Barracks, restoring the two-story building so visitors could get a glimpse into the life of those detained on the island. This job held special significance as the carvings on the walls of the barracks captured the poetry of Chinese immigrants awaiting release to the mainland.

Because the Miwok Indians previously occupied Angel Island, the job required Thompson to be especially careful during excavations, relying on monitors. Petri’s crew even unearthed an Indian midden, similar to a garbage dump, while excavating—prompting UC Davis to come out for an archeological dig.

“Both Angel Island Immigration Station jobs have been really fascinating projects of historical significance,” concludes Petri. “I’m glad to be a part of the renovation process, so the public can visit these sites as well.”

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