SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -

Shovels were in the ground Wednesday afternoon in San Luis Obispo to symbolically begin construction on the Copeland Health Education Pavilion. When completed in about a year, it will mark the first addition to the campus of French Hospital Medical Center in several decades.

The building will provide the community access to health care educational resources free of charge. "It will be fully dedicated and committed to providing education and research to staff members, physicians and to the community in general about disease prevention," said Alan Iftiniuk, French Hospital CEO/President.

Iftiniuk said the Pavilion is part of the transformation taking place at the hospital that is aiming to address many of the changes happening in the health care industry. "With a greater emphasis emerging on wellness and less hospitalizations, it is imperative for hospitals like French to take a greater leadership role in educating our community about ways to stay healthy.”

Building architect Brian Starr says since the facility will be used for the health care industry, it should be "healthy" as well. His vision is to create a structure that will feature many windows to provide as much natural light as possible. In addition, the building will face two groves of eucalyptus trees to provide eye-pleasing views of the nearby community.

"It's got a lot of unique functions inside, it's to support education and research, so there's a lot of meeting space, from a large auditorium to a board room and conference rooms.," said Starr. "It's got a lot of unique functions inside, it's to support education and research, so there's a lot of meeting space, from a large auditorium to a board room and conference rooms."

The building is being possible through the donations of the Copeland family. "We continue to be proud of our support of French Hospital and believe this is a significant next step to enhance health care education for our community," said Jim Copeland. "Providing access to the latest educational tools will only strengthen the quality of care for patients."

As part of the project, French Hospital will also donate space for a walking and biking path through the hospital campus. Access to the many features inside the building will be given to the City of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department, Cal Poly and Cuesta College. Construction of the Copeland Health Educational Pavilion will take about a year to complete and the grand opening is slated for sometime in 2015.