Sunday, January 18, 2015

White out

The Edie and Lew Wasserman Building is a sleek white glass and steel new addition to UCLA campus, a stunning architectural work by Michael Palladino of Richard Meiers' group of notable architects, a new research and patient care facility for the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.

It took three months since my optometrist referred me to schedule an appointment, but last Tuesday I finally went in to consult with a doctor whether I have cataracts and whether they require surgery.

The building is structurally anchored by two concrete towers at its east and west end. These massive towers are spanned by six floors, open and airy with sheer glass walls facing south toward Westwood Village.

The initial impression upon entering the lobby is white and light. The building glows with light.

Upstairs, in the second floor suite of the cataract surgical unit, the examination rooms are disconcerting. White floors, white walls and ceilings, white cabinets, all the same pristine shade of white. The black-upholstered examination chair, the black and silver optical instruments seem to float in the whiteness as though unmoored in space.

When I took my contact lenses out for exams, it felt even more like I was floating in a world of white light.

The doctor is a hotshot - so renowned he has a phalanx of assistants to do the work for him. First a scrubs-wearing assistant gave me an exam. Then an associate doctor wearing a white labcoat came in, and administered a different set of tests. Only after this did I meet the doctor himself.

There seems to be a certain hierarchy among doctors - the really celebrated ones transcend the need for such conventionalities as wearing labcoats.  When my doctor entered the pure white room, he wore a tweedy sportcoat, shirt and tie, the earthy colors standing out in the whiteness.

He pronounced his diagnosis. I do indeed have cataracts. But they are not advanced, and unless they cause me impairment, he doesn't advise surgery at this point.  His assistants checked my prescription and he advised me to upgrade my lenses and glasses. "Give this a few months and see how you feel," he said. "If you really think you need surgery, just call us."

I put my contact lenses back in, and was ushered out into the bright white lobby. On the one hand, how nice that a building dedicated to human vision would celebrate brightness and illumination. On the other hand, with my eyes dilated, it was too intense, almost headache-inducing - blinding, in fact.

I found my sunglasses in my bag, to cut the glare of this magnificent edifice to vision.


Jenny Hart Boren said...

My best friend had her drooping eyelids lifted at Jules Stein--they were impairing her vision--and the surgeon decided a forehead lift would help even more. Now she wishes that fixing a baggy chin line was also part of the recommended treatment!

Max Sartin said...

It's a beautiful building. As blinding as it might be, I always like a lot of natural light.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Looks more like a museum than an office suite!