Yang, Yamazaki join president for dedication of 'green' building

L.A. Cicero Siebel, Newsom and Luthy

Actress Jennifer Siebel, a Stanford alumna, and her fiancé, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, chatted with civil engineering Professor Richard Luthy, right, before the dedication.

L.A. Cicero President John Hennessy spoke

President John Hennessy spoke Tuesday at the dedication of the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building.

L.A. Cicero Akiko Yamazaki

Akiko Yamazaki made some brief remarks at the dedication of the building that bears her name and that of her husband Jerry Yang.

When President John Hennessy first approached Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, about creating an interdisciplinary home for the university's environmental research, "it really hit home for us," Yamazaki recalled Tuesday at the dedication of the building the couple made possible, the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building.

"We felt this was one of the best investments that we could make for the next generation, and our children," she told a crowd of several hundred who gathered around one of the new building's trademark atriums. The Earth's environment will benefit from Stanford's unique ability to tackle complex problems, she said. "We cannot afford not to do something today," she added.

Yamazaki and Yang contributed $50 million toward the building, dubbed Y2E2—shorthand for Yamazaki and Yang, energy and environment.

Yang, now a Stanford trustee and the chief executive officer of Yahoo!, reminded the audience of his student days: "This part of campus is very familiar to me. I think David Filo and I started Yahoo! about 100 yards that way."

Hennessy quoted Winston Churchill and David Starr Jordan, Stanford's first president, in describing the significance of bringing together researchers from all of the university's seven schools into one energy-efficient building—the greenest building on campus—to work together on environmental issues.

"We shape our buildings, and afterward, our buildings shape us," Hennessy said, quoting Churchill.

Jordan, Hennessy said, told the graduates of 1908 that a university "is an institution from which in every direction blazes the light of original research." The Y2E2 building, Hennessy said, "will serve as our core. It will serve as the center of the environmental solar system at Stanford."

Earlier Tuesday, during a related symposium, Y2E2 won praise from one of its new occupants, Jeffrey Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of the Woods Institute for the Environment. "It is much more than a building; it is a symbol of what is possible," Koseff said. "It is designed for problem-solving, designed to conserve, designed to inspire, and designed to teach."

Ashley Kamiura, a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service, contributed to this story.