1928 building getting total makeover as part of TMC’s campus upgrade

Copy of Patio Bldg BWAs Tucson Medical Center prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its first patient admission, the hospital remembers its roots, which extend back even before TMC’s opening in 1944.

Tucson Medical Center’s historic Patio Building is being restored, harkening back to its construction in 1928 to serve as the Institute of Research and Diagnostic Clinic for the Desert Sanatorium.

Before TMC was born, the Desert Sanatorium served as a tuberculosis treatment center and as a healthy retreat for those seeking the benefits of dry desert air and abundant sunshine. The Desert San, a cluster of buildings out in the desert northeast of Tucson, faded in popularity through the Great Depression and World War II. In 1943, owner Anna Erickson donated the property as the foundation for a community-run hospital – TMC – that began admitting patients in 1944.TMC70Final

Today, this significant building from the Desert Sanatorium’s early days still stands at the TMC entrance at Beverly and Grant. Designed by architect Roy Place with later renovations by Henry Jaastad, the Patio Building perpetuates the Hopi-inspired design motif utilized in the Sanatorium’s first buildings, including the use of battered walls and parapets and wood beam details.

The U-shaped building features a central patio surrounded by a covered arcade graced with hand-hewn beams and columns. Finished with a smooth stucco finish, the building has walls constructed of brick, floor and roof slabs of concrete, and support beams made of steel. At the eastern corners of the building are two towers that once housed specialty research equipment, designed to enable treatments using the rays of the sun. Copper domes atop the towers protected the equipment at both corners.

Now, in 2014, one of the final phases of a seven-year, $250 million campus improvement project is the renovation of the Patio Building. The new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower is the centerpiece of the project, which also has included new roads, parking areas, walkways and expanded Pediatric and Mother/Baby units.

The historic Erickson Building, once home to the owners of the Desert Sanatorium, has already been restored. The work on the Patio Building is expected to last until nearly the end of the year.

Patio Bldg 4

Patio Building project:

  • Removing the adobe mud surface to assess the structural brick repairs needed.
  • Repairing the walls where needed and reapplying an adobe mud surfacing using historical processes
  • Installing helical piers at critical points under the foundation to help alleviate settling fractures
  • Replacing much of the rotted wood lintels and porch beams that have deteriorated over the decades
  • Replacing the hand-troweled porch concrete walk with a new hand-troweled concrete walk
  • Re-roofing close to half of the existing roof
  • Installing two copper domes (non-functional) to restore the original appearance of the domes on the two east corners of the buildingPatio Bldg 2

Patio Bldg 1



  1. Nina Straw says:

    My father was a patient in 1980. He LOVED having a patient room in one of the back outside buildings. He could enjoy the air and the trees when he was being wheeled into the hospital for a procedure.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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