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Stanford's Old Chemistry Building to become an undergraduate science center

In addition to approving the transformation of Old Chemistry into a center devoted to undergraduate science education, the Stanford University Board of Trustees recently approved proposals to build new undergraduate dorms and a new campus office building.

Courtesy of Stanford University Archives Old Chemistry Building

Among the projects the Board of Trustees approved is a $66.7 million proposal to restore and transform the 116-year-old 'Old Chemistry Building.'

In a meeting with Stanford's Board of Trustees in 1897, Jane Stanford delivered a list of five "noble" buildings she wanted built to fulfill her late husband's vision of the university, including a building for the Department of Chemistry.

The sandstone chemistry building, which opened in 1903, was damaged in the 1906 earthquake – every one of its chimneys collapsed – and restored that same year. In 1987, officials closed the building, which had become a structural and fire hazard.

Last week the 116-year-old  "Old Chemistry Building " was again the topic of discussion at the Board of Trustees, which approved a $66.7 million proposal to restore and transform it into the Science Teaching and Learning Center, which will be devoted to undergraduate science education.

At their June 12-13 meeting, trustees gave concept approval – the first step in the approval process – to the new center, which will feature state-of-the-art teaching laboratories for chemistry and biology.

The center will house a new library that will combine the existing biology, chemistry and mathematics libraries. Preliminary plans also call for an underground addition that will accommodate a 300-person auditorium and two large classrooms.

The four-story building, which faces the Oval at the end of Palm Drive, will be a key component of Stanford's long-range vision to create a Biology/Chemistry District along the formal entrance to campus.

The project is expected to return to trustees for design approval in October; for project approval in February 2014; and for construction approval in June 2014. The center is expected to open in the winter of 2016.

According to Steven A. Denning, chair of the Board of Trustees, the board approved the university's proposed FY 14 budget. 

In addition, Lloyd B. Minor, dean of the School of Medicine discussed with the board his vision and priorities for the Medical School as well as for Stanford Hospital & Clinics. His presentation included a discussion of the Medical Center Renewal Project, which includes a new Stanford Hospital, and the expansion of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

New undergraduate housing

The Board of Trustees gave the nod of approval for new undergraduate residences – to be built at Manzanita Park and at Lagunita Court – that together will add 344 new beds for students by the fall of 2015.

Together, the projects represent the first major undergraduate housing additions in 20 years.

Denning said the new dorms would help ease the crowding in student residences. While the additional beds may benefit Stanford if the university decides to increase its undergraduate population, that is not the primary goal of the projects, he said.

The Board of Trustees gave design approval to a new residence hall in the Manzanita Park complex on the east side of campus. Currently, Manzanita Park has three residences – Kimball, Castaño and Lantana Halls – that house about 425 undergraduate students.

The new three-story Manzanita dorm will provide beds for 125 undergraduates. It also will include two studios for guests/visiting scholars, one studio for a graduate-student-in-residence, and an apartment for a resident fellow.

The new dorm will have a lounge, group learning spaces, a kitchenette, restrooms and study rooms. In addition, it will include spaces that can be tailored to the eventual theme or program needs of the new dorm, such as a music room and a project room for a theme dorm centered on the humanities and the arts.

The building will be situated in the open space between the Schwab Residential Center and Manzanita Dining Hall, adjacent to Lantana and Castaño Halls.

The $23 million project is expected to return to trustees for project and partial construction approval in October, and construction approval in December. Construction is expected to begin this fall and to be completed in the spring of 2015.

The project, which received concept and site approval in 2010, has been further developed and adjusted to better fit within the Manzanita Park neighborhood.

Trustees also gave concept and site approval for two new dorms at Lagunita Court, a Mediterranean-style complex located on the west side of campus on Santa Teresa Street. Currently, Lagunita Court houses 319 students.

Each new house will be a four-class residence and each one will provide beds for 108 students. Each house also will include an apartment for a resident fellow. Each house will have a lounge, kitchenette, music room and exterior patio.

The $39.5 million project is expected to return to trustees for design approval in October; project and partial construction approval in December, and construction approval in February 2014. Construction is expected to begin in early 2014.

Panama Mall Office Building

Trustees gave concept and site approval for a new "L-shaped" office building to be built at the corner of Panama Mall and Lomita Mall. The four-story building would provide offices and conference rooms for several university groups, including the Dean of Research, the Vice Provost for Online Learning, Business Affairs, the Registrar's Office and Residential & Dining Enterprises – Housing Assignment. The project includes production studios for Stanford Online.

The building will have a two-story east wing along Panama Mall and a three-story west wing along Lomita Mall. The primary entrance will be along Panama Mall.

The $49.6 million project is expected to return to trustees for design and project approval in October and construction approval in December. The office building is expected to be completed by December 2014.