Redwood City campus concept

The Redwood City campus of Stanford University, scheduled to open in 2019, will provide office space for more than 2,300 employees and include a fitness center and pool. (ZGF Architects)

Stanford takes next step toward Redwood City Campus

The Board of Trustees has approved plans for the contemporary Stanford in Redwood City campus, an amenity-filled workplace and the university's first significant expansion beyond the main campus.

The Board of Trustees this week approved design plans as a first step toward opening a new state-of-the-art Redwood City campus, initially for more than 2,300 Stanford employees in vital university functions. The plans will be submitted in early 2016 to the City of Redwood City for design approval.

The proposed Stanford University Redwood City Campus, which will feature modern offices, a fitness center and pool, a town square "quad" and park, among other amenities, will be located off Highway 101 near the intersection of Woodside Road and Broadway. It will be the university's first significant expansion outside its main campus.

The 35-acre site, the former Mid-Point Technology Park, is about five miles from the main campus and was once home to Ampex, an electronics firm that pioneered reel-to-reel tape recorders. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for early fall of 2016. The first phase of development is scheduled to be completed by 2019.

First phase

The first phase of the proposed campus will include four modern office buildings, outdoor dining areas and plazas, a child care center, a parking garage, a glass-atrium fitness center and its own sustainable central utility plant. Over time, the university proposes to demolish eight existing buildings and construct up to 13 new ones on the site, offering 1.5 million square feet for offices, medical clinics and research and development.

The campus will evoke the colors, look and feel of Stanford's main campus in its design and landscaping. The architectural style of many of the proposed buildings will borrow from recently completed campus construction.

"Stanford's Redwood City campus will be infused with the ethos of the main campus, drawing from programmatic, cultural and design attributes," said David Lenox, university architect. "It will feel like Stanford. Covered arcades along the greenway connecting buildings and landscaped spaces; the use of warm, high-quality building materials in the Stanford palette; and spaces for active and passive recreation are just a few examples."

Initially, the campus will be home to Stanford employees working in such critical areas as the Graduate School of Business; School of Medicine administration; Stanford Libraries and University Archives; the major administrative units of Business Affairs; Lands, Building and Real Estate; University Human Resources; Residential & Dining Enterprises; and the Office of Development. Since many of the offices are currently scattered or located off the main campus, Redwood City provides an opportunity for co-location for units that support the university in key areas, including supporting research, overseeing technology and financial operations, maintaining the university's lands and buildings and creating and implementing human resource policies and procedures.

Among those whose offices will be relocated to Redwood City is Randy Livingston, vice president for business affairs and the university's chief financial officer.

"We're excited about bringing the Business Affairs organization together in Redwood City in 21st-century space," he said. "We appreciate that the new campus will have much of the ambience of the old campus in terms of architecture, open spaces and amenities."

Long-term investment

The university is looking at Stanford in Redwood City with a long-term perspective. It will likely take many years to fully build out the campus, depending upon the university's needs, according to Steve Elliott, managing director for development in Stanford's Real Estate Office.

Currently, the property houses about 75 archivists and preservationists working with Stanford Libraries Services and staff members of Stanford University Press. About 700 doctors, nurses and other medical staff specializing in areas ranging from orthopedics and pain management to sleep disorders are working at the adjacent Stanford Medicine Outpatient Clinic at 450 Broadway St.

Stanford purchased the former Midpoint Technology Park in 2005, shortly after Stanford Hospital and Clinics bought the four buildings on Broadway that are now outpatient clinics. The university's purchase was prompted by its long-term strategy for future growth, as it looked beyond Santa Clara County for opportunities.

The development plan, environmental review and accompanying community benefits package for the new campus were approved by the Redwood City Council in 2013. The council approved a Precise Plan as the governing planning document that allows for greater concentration of buildings and, at the same time, requires more landscaping and open space than exists today. The Precise Plan allows greater building heights and structured parking facilities.

Community building

As part of the development agreement between Stanford and Redwood City, Stanford offered $15.1 million in public benefits, including the Graduate School of Business Executive Education's entrepreneurial boot camp and management-training programs. All were designed specifically for Redwood City residents and business leaders.

Stanford has worked closely with Redwood City officials and members of the local community to explain the university's plans and to solicit suggestions to ensure the project complements the city and community's priorities, according to Lucy Wicks, Stanford director of community relations.

"Stanford values its growing relationship with Redwood City. We're proud to be part of the city's future, and we appreciate the way Redwood City residents have welcomed us," she said. "The first campus to be built outside Stanford is a milestone for us, and we're grateful to have a partner like Redwood City to work with."

The university also will integrate sustainable practices into the new buildings, according to Elliott. In addition, Stanford will increase the site's landscaped areas, develop pedestrian corridors and create new open space near Spinas Park. The university has contributed to the cost of storm-water improvements in the low-lying area.

Funds have been allocated to make street enhancements in the adjacent neighborhoods, and Stanford will be making improvements to local street intersections. A robust transportation demand management program will include shuttles to the Redwood City Caltrain station, as well as other transportation alternatives to reduce single-occupancy car trips. The university has funded a feasibility study for streetcars. Barron, Warrington and Hurlingame avenues will be extended through the site, creating better pedestrian and vehicular traffic circulation.

Among the amenities currently planned for staff members are:

  • High-end fitness center, with a pool
  • Modern child care center
  • Cafes and a food pavilion
  • A town square that will serve as the civic heart of the campus
  • Ample parking
  • Open spaces and attractive landscaping
  • State-of-the-art buildings with ample light and views
  • Areas for collaborative working and conferencing
  • BeWell programs
  • Shuttle service and traffic management programs

Other amenities and programs designed to reflect the Stanford ethos are in the planning stages. An advisory committee, representing staff whose team members will be either partially or wholly located in Redwood City, has been convened and is discussing such topics as work stations and offices, conference rooms and connectivity to the main campus. Stanford staff members from relocating departments have been surveyed to ensure that the Redwood City Campus environment meets their needs.

"We will be working very hard to ensure that the Stanford University Redwood City Campus is some place that employees want to work and Redwood City residents want to visit," Wicks said. "With beautiful landscaping, outdoor areas for work and rest, state-of-the-art buildings, day care and a great fitness center with seamless BeWell access, this is going to be a great campus in which to work."

In addition to building the Redwood City campus, Stanford plans to prepare the existing Stanford campus with improved communication facilities in order to enable efficient communications and avoid unnecessary trips between the two campuses