Redwood City campus will evoke the look and feel of Stanford

Building a campus from scratch has provided both opportunities and challenges for the Campus Planning and Design Office. University Architect David Lenox talks about the university's approach to the new campus' look and feel.

University Architect David Lenox

University Architect David Lenox says the Campus Planning and Design Office has worked hard to replicate for employees of the Redwood City campus the attributes that make Stanford a special place to work. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

The Board of Trustees recently approved plans for the new Stanford in Redwood City campus, the university’s first significant expansion beyond the main campus.

Initially, some 2,400 employees will work there on the site of the former Mid-Point Technology Park off Highway 101, about 5 miles from the main campus. It will feature modern offices, a fitness center and pool, a town square and a park, among other amenities. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for early fall of 2016.

Building a campus from scratch has provided both opportunities and challenges for the Campus Planning and Design Office. In an interview, University Architect David Lenox talks about the university’s approach to the new campus’ look and feel.


What is next in the approval process for the Redwood City campus?

The design plans have been submitted to Redwood City, per the Precise Plan guidelines. The Architectural Review Committee first reviews the plans. Then they go to the Planning Commission.


What will it be like to have an office on the new campus in Redwood City?

Imagine it’s a beautiful spring morning. You are on the new campus, strolling down the greenway path toward the arcades that, like the arcades on the main campus, link the buildings and the landscaped courtyards. The warm tones of the wood arcade ceilings, the accent light fixtures and benches, and the collaborative office spaces all evoke that same feeling many of us had when we first visited the main campus. We have worked hard to replicate the attributes that make Stanford such a special place to work for all of the employees who will be part of the campus in Redwood City.


How will the Redwood City campus evoke the main campus?

This campus will be infused with the Stanford ethos. The design focuses on creating a strong sense of place; evoking a sense of pride and higher purpose; crafting an environment that builds connections with the community, within the campus and to the central campus; and committing to the design quality and integrity of Stanford architecture.

For example, we are using the same high-quality, buff-colored limestone that has become our standard material in the Science and Engineering Quad, the School of Medicine and on the Law School campus with the Neukom Building. The four primary Redwood City office buildings have been designed to feel like they are part of the Stanford family. I think if we were to build the Redwood City campus buildings adjacent to the Science and Engineering Quad, they would fit in beautifully.


Are there ways in which the buildings will improve on, for instance, the sustainability achieved on the main campus?

We plan to leverage in Redwood City the best sustainability practices learned on the main campus. The central energy facility on the new campus, as well as photovoltaics, will build on the innovations we have made with the Stanford Energy System Innovations project. The use of recycled water for landscape, aggressive water management practices on the grounds, drought tolerant landscape and a transportation demand management program are a few of the attributes of our Redwood City sustainability program.


Are there particular buildings on the main campus that you used as starting points for the look of the Redwood City campus?

Absolutely. A good example will be the dining pavilion, which will be a projecting-trellis structure facing both the town square and the greenway. My Stanford colleague Zach Pozner, who is director of our architectural team, describes it as a glass jewel box. It’s meant to be the magnet of the Redwood City campus. In that way, it echoes the scale and energy of Arbuckle Dining at the Graduate School of Business Knight Management Center. Like Arbuckle, the interior wood detailing will convey a sense of warmth, and the casual furniture on the patio and terrace will help make the space inviting and welcoming. Another example might be the Clark Center and Li Ka Shing Center, which have projecting-roof overhangs and inviting entries. You’ll see those elements in Redwood City as well.


What will the landscaping be like?

Stanford has a rich tradition of creating a diversity of landscaped spaces that evoke the heritage of the university, and that’ll be the case in Redwood City, too. There will be intimate courtyards between the building where people can gather, work in teams, celebrate occasions. There will also be an open landscaped space in the southeast block that will provide opportunities for recreation. We’ve put a lot of consideration into the trees, shrubs and groundcover for the campus.


What will the Redwood City campus town square be like?

I think everyone on the planning team is most excited about the town square because it has so much potential. We think about it as a throwback to an Italian piazza, where you might grab groceries at a farmers’ market on your way home or just sit with friends. We can imagine Stanford banners, student groups performing, the Marguerite shuttle pulling up. We’re looking forward to seeing how people use it. Because it’s located centrally along Broadway, it will be our “front door” and most powerful connection to the Stanford Clinics across the street and the broader Redwood City community.