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Trustees approve preliminary plans for new housing and Law School building

37 single-family detatched homes, 29 townhouse-style rentals, facility for legal clinics get concept, site OKs

The Stanford University Board of Trustees recently gave the green light to preliminary plans to build entry-level homes for junior faculty, townhouse-style rental homes for coaches and a new building for the Law School's legal clinics program and faculty offices. The trustees gave concept and site approval to all three projects at their Dec. 10-11 meeting.

Homes for junior faculty

Under the proposed $33 million Stanford Avenue Faculty Homes project, the university would build 37 single-family, detached homes on a narrow parcel of vacant land located on the east side of campus, in an area bounded by Stanford Avenue to the east, Olmsted Road to the west, El Camino Real to the north and Harvard Street to the south.

Most of the homes would face Stanford Avenue and the College Terrace neighborhood of Palo Alto.

Preliminary plans call for two-story homes, ranging in size from 1,700 to 2,300 square feet. The homes would be set back at least 25 feet from Stanford Avenue. Each would have a two-car garage, and the complex would include guest parking spaces. The architectural style of the homes would reflect the quality of design seen in comparable single-family neighborhoods in Palo Alto and Menlo Park with regard to scale, massing, colors and materials.

Over the last six months, the university has conducted three focus groups with a faculty panel, which voiced a strong preference for homes with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a "bonus" room that can be turned into a fourth bedroom or an office large enough for two desks.

The university is investigating programs to make the homes affordable for purchase by junior faculty, such as associate professors, whose average annual salary in fiscal year 2007 was $113,000, according to an annual survey by the American Association of University Professors. (The salary figure does not include Stanford Medical School.)

Without significant financial help from Stanford, those professors cannot afford a single-family home in Palo Alto, where the median price during the first six months of 2007 was $1.5 million, or in Menlo Park, where the median price during that same period was $1.3 million. Nor can they afford a home on campus, where the median price was $1.65 million during the 2006-07 academic year.

Trustee Mary Cranston said being able to offer affordable homes in one of the priciest housing markets in the nation would help Stanford recruit and retain top faculty.

The proposal is expected to return to the trustees for design approval in 2008, and project and construction approval in 2009. Based on that anticipated schedule of reviews, the first homes would be available in September 2010, and the project would be complete by September 2011.

Rental housing for athletics staff

Under the $27 million Olmsted Road Staff Rental Housing project, which was proposed by the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation, Stanford would build up to 29 townhouse-style rental homes for head coaches, assistant coaches and other athletics staff.

"We'll be able to recruit and keep coaches and staff at Stanford by providing housing close to our facilities," said Ray Purpur, deputy athletic director.

The buildings would be located on the east side of campus, on a vacant 3-acre site bounded by Stanford Avenue, Olmsted Road and El Camino Real. The homes would be set back at least 40 feet from the new East Campus Child Care Center, which is currently under construction and is expected to open by September.

Preliminary plans call for nine three-bedroom homes (2,030 square feet) and 20 four-bedroom homes (2,420 square feet). All would have three levels, including one level below ground for a two-car garage and additional living space.

The proposal is scheduled to return to the trustees for design, project and construction approval, with construction beginning in June. Based on the anticipated schedule of reviews, the project would be completed in July 2009.

Law School building

Trustees also gave a nod to a new $65.5 million faculty office and clinics building for the Law School. All of its faculty would be housed in the new building, as well as support staff, research and writing fellows.

The proposed three-story building would also become the new home for its legal clinics program, which comprises 10 clinics, including cyber law, environmental law, Supreme Court litigation and immigrants’ rights.

Under the program, which was founded in 2000, students spend one quarter working full time in a clinic under the guidance of faculty mentors. The Law School carved a space for the program out of its library in 2005, but the program has outgrown those quarters.

In the new building, the clinics program will have conference rooms, interview rooms, a library and space for law-firm style filing, administrative staff and paralegals.

The clinics, as well as seminar rooms, and legal writing and research areas will be located on the ground floor of the new building, under preliminary plans submitted to the trustees. The second and third floors will house faculty offices, a small faculty lounge and the dean’s office suite. Plans also call for an exterior courtyard on the second floor.

In fact, the whole Law School has outgrown its quarters, Dean Larry Kramer said. He said the school, which was built for 150 people, now houses nearly 300. In addition, more than two dozen people are working in rented offices off campus.

Kramer said the new building would help the school continue its transformation from a traditional program, focused on individuals working on their own, to a dynamic, interactive program that emphasizes teamwork and interdisciplinary study.

“The existing building we have isn’t really capable of facilitating the program we’re creating,” Kramer said.

The new facility would be built on a triangular parcel of land at the corner of Nathan Abbott Lane and Lane A, on the site of the existing Kresge Auditorium, which would be demolished to make way for the new building. (An auditorium planned as part of the new campus for the Graduate School of Business, known as the Knight Management Center, will replace both Kresge and the Business School’s Bishop Auditorium.)

In 2006, William H. Neukom, a 1967 graduate of the Law School, committed $20 million toward the construction of the new law building. Neukom, who served as Microsoft Corp.’s lead attorney for 25 years, is a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis LLP in Seattle.

The proposal is expected to return to the trustees for design and project approval in 2008, and construction approval in April 2009. Based on the anticipated schedule of reviews, the building would be completed in September 2010.

The new building is the first phase of a two-phase expansion plan for the Law School. During the second phase, the “link” building between the Frederich I. Richman Classroom Building (F.I.R. Hall) and the Robert Crown Law Library would be removed and replaced with a “gateway” building facing Canfield Court. Preliminary plans call for the gateway to connect with the existing buildings and the new building by second-story walkways.