New science and engineering quad planned for campus core

Courtesy of Stanford University / SEQ 2 Master Plan and Design Guidelines SEQ

A computer-altered aerial photo of campus shows the outline of the future science and engineering quad (SEQ 2) that will occupy 8.2 acres at the center of campus.

The "Olmsted vision" should soon be realized on the southwest side of campus.

More than 116 years after noted park planner Frederick Law Olmsted created a master plan for the university that mapped out a major science and engineering quad west of the Main Quad, the university's Board of Trustees has approved a concept for a quadrangle of four new buildings that will rise up next to the existing science and engineering quad located along Serra Mall.

Dubbed SEQ 2, the four buildings and an inner courtyard will occupy 8.2 acres of land bordered by Via Ortega to the west, the existing Hewlett and Packard Quad to the east, the South Service Road to the south and Via Pueblo Mall to the north. The overall project calls for the construction of an environment and energy building, a new School of Engineering center, a Ginzton replacement building and a bioengineering/chemical engineering building, and is expected to cost between $375 million and $420 million.

The phased construction process is tentatively scheduled to begin in July 2006 with groundbreaking on the environment and energy building, and officials hope to finish the final building by 2014. Once completed, SEQ 2 will give many of the university's science and engineering efforts state-of-the-art new facilities in a desirable campus location that more cohesively links the western side of campus with the Main Quad and beyond, said board Chair Burton McMurtry.

"Not only will the new science and engineering quad provide modern facilities for many of our science and engineering departments, it will also be one of the most prominent architectural features of the campus," McMurtry said. "This really takes us back toward the original Olmsted plan. It is going to make the transition to the west become a very pleasant continuation of the quad feeling."

President John Hennessy said, "This is a very exciting time for Stanford. Throughout the campus, multidisciplinary teams are addressing some of society's most complex and important challenges. These new facilities, while housing cutting-edge research and teaching, also provide an important link to Stanford's intellectual and architectural heritage. I have no doubt that the collaborations that go on there will lead to many years of important new research and groundbreaking discoveries."

Hennessy also said the university will do what it can to minimize the impacts of an extended construction process. At least three major buildings will be torn down to make way for the new buildings: the applied physics building, the Ginzton Laboratory and the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, in addition to the two-story modular building that houses the Gravity Probe B project.

Two hundred and fifteen A and C parking spaces at a lot on the corner of Via Ortega and Panama Street will be permanently replaced by the environment and energy building when construction begins, but officials said the lot on Stock Farm Road will be able to accommodate the parking loss.

Via Ortega, an alternative to Campus Drive West for many, will close to normal vehicular traffic for much of the construction process and will eventually become a pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfare that will better link the Medical School facilities to both of the science and engineering quads and the rest of the main campus. The street will remain accessible to the Marguerite shuttle and service vehicles but will likely remain closed to regular vehicular traffic, said Robert Reidy, vice provost for land and buildings.

Faculty and staff who work in the buildings slated for demolition will be moved to permanent facilities that are already built or that will be built as part of the phased construction process. Staff at the Ginzton Laboratory will likely be the most inconvenienced because they will be the last ones to move as other buildings are built around them.

Land and Buildings staff also will incorporate a communications strategy that proved successful during recent major construction projects; it includes weekly e-mail updates, a website, town hall meetings, posted notices and collaboration with various deans. The planning process also included measures to minimize access problems that staff who work in the affected buildings will encounter during construction.

The overall project will create more than 550,000 square feet, while the demolition of the existing buildings and the current Terman Engineering Center will eliminate more than 212,000 square feet. Terman will likely be demolished after the new School of Engineering Center is completed.

The project will be funded by a combination of long-term debt, gifts and reserves. University development officials hope to procure a combination of regional funding from donors interested in the project as a whole, as well as more traditional gifts for specific buildings. The concept of regional funding echoes the role that William R. Hewlett and David Packard played in the development of science and engineering facilities, including the Hewlett and Packard Science and Engineering Quad, in the 1980s and 1990s, said Tim Portwood, assistant vice president for development.

History of SEQ 2Although Olmsted outlined a proposed science and engineering quad to the west of the Main Quad, his vision was never realized; that portion of land long remained undeveloped as part of the original "farm" until after World War II. After the war, a number of modest science buildings were constructed in the area that largely ignored the principles of the Olmsted plan but accommodated important science needs of the university at the time. The conceptualization of SEQ 1 in 1991 was the first step toward realizing the Olmsted vision and helped lay the foundation for the second critical science and engineering quad.

SEQ 2, long desired, gained considerable momentum after it was identified as a top priority by a university-wide needs assessment process three years ago. A subcommittee of the Board of Trustees chaired by trustee John Morgridge then began the SEQ 2 master plan while working with outside architects, senior administrators and deans, and staff from the Department of Land and Buildings and the Development Office.

Four main priorities established by the subcommittee helped frame and control the project's goals and scale. The first priority was to accommodate the functional requirements of the programs that would go into the buildings. The second was to find a balance between cost and aesthetics. The third was to provide a sustainable design. The last was to achieve a high degree of consistency with the buildings in the quad.

Initial space requests from the various schools involved with the project would have led to buildings that were too big for the site, Reidy said, due to the laboratory requirements and initial program requests. After further consultation with school deans and an "impact of space" audit, the overall size of the buildings was reduced by 20 percent, partly due to a number of shared components. The four buildings, each no more than three-stories high, will be linked underground by an 18-foot-deep basement of shared laboratory space that is sure to be in high demand because of its state-of-the-art equipment and controlled environment free of outside light, noise and vibrations.

Considerable efforts went into ensuring that the new buildings fit in aesthetically with other buildings in the area, particularly the Main Quad and those in the existing SEQ 1. "Consistency with uniqueness" was the order of the day for the buildings, which will be built with limestone tile exteriors and red tile roofs and will be linked together by an arcade similar to the historic one that links the buildings in the Main Quad, Reidy said.

The new buildings also will frame a large open courtyard, similar to the one in the Main Quad, that will serve as a ceremonial and everyday gathering space. A rotunda will jut out into the courtyard from the School of Engineering Center and will feature a café on the main floor and the School of Engineering library on the second story. Outdoor seating next to a fountain will be provided in the courtyard outside of the rotunda.

The existing Hewlett and Packard Science and Engineering Quad will undergo slight modifications to better link it to the new quad. The existing freestanding curved arcade at the west edge of SEQ 1 will be removed to extend the primary east-west axis and make room for the School of Engineering Center and the new Ginzton replacement building. Modifications in grading also will be made to create a continuous ground plane to the new quad.

When completed, Provost John Etchemendy said the SEQ 2 complex will provide much-needed facilities for the evolving research needs of faculty and students.

"Stanford faculty and students are among the most brilliant researchers anywhere," Etchemendy said. "If we expect them to continue to achieve excellence, we must provide facilities that meet their needs well into the future. The new buildings in the SEQ 2 will do just that—even as their design will reflect the history and tradition of the Main Quad."

Architect rendering

Via Ortega