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Introducing the 'Other' Campus

Glenn Matsumura

FARMED OUT: To preserve space in the core campus, some administrative units will move to Redwood City.

There is a Stanford in Washington, a Stanford in Oxford, even a Stanford in Beijing. But a Stanford in Redwood City? Though it might sound strange, the idea of moving some administrative offices and outpatient clinics off campus to preserve the University's dwindling core for teaching and research makes good academic sense, says Provost John Etchemendy, PhD '82.

“Because of the General Use Permit, which severely restricts how much Stanford is able to expand, we are being forced to ask ourselves, 'What can be done on campus, and what can be done at a remote site?'” the provost explains. If a Stanford department's work requires daily face-to-face contact with students and faculty, it can expect to remain on the main campus. But if it's more staff- or technology-oriented, like the Controller's Office or Human Resources, its days on the Farm probably are numbered.

Unlike some of the more urban Ivies, which have relied on remote administrative offices and storage facilities for decades, Stanford didn't take its first big leap off campus until 2002, when it built an auxiliary library in Livermore, Calif., to house some 3 million of the University's less-used books. Three years later, Stanford bought eight buildings at Redwood City's Mid-Point Technology Park, a 46-acre research-and-development campus between Bay Road and Broadway at Highway 101. Four other buildings at the site were purchased by Stanford Hospital for remodeling into outpatient clinics.

Aside from the nearly completed hospital buildings, Stanford's future Redwood City campus—the former home of Ampex—looks like any other 1960s-era California light-industrial park, with nondescript tilt-up warehouses surrounded by shimmering acres of asphalt parking. Most of the buildings still have tenants in them.

Over the next few years, pending Redwood City Council approval, University planners hope to start replacing those buildings with something more Farm-like: an urban oasis for some 5,000 employees, with inviting streetscapes, landscaped courtyards, arcades, fountains, an “adult union” where staffers can gather for lunch and conferences, a fitness club and daycare facilities. The project is slated for completion in 2012.

For many Stanford employees, of course, the prospect of moving to a site that abuts a freeway is unappealing no matter how it's packaged. “Not surprisingly, the people who are moving off campus would rather not,” Etchemendy acknowledges. “Nobody blames them.” Still, he promises, “We're going to make sure that it's a very nice environment.”

Perhaps no one has more incentive to get the Redwood City job done right than University architect David Lenox. As fate would have it, one of the employee groups eventually scheduled to move up the Peninsula is his own—the department of land, buildings and real estate.

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