Stanford lies at the heart of Silicon Valley, where orchards have given way to knowledge-based industries and the environment is more urban than rural. The university, too, has grown and changed dramatically over the past few decades—yet about 60 percent (4,980 acres) of our total contiguous land remains undeveloped. Our ability to use this land sustainably is a key factor in ensuring that Stanford remains a vital, productive community and a pleasant, healthy place to work and live.
Stanford land encompasses varied ecosystems and provides habitat to three federally protected species: the California red-legged frog, the steelhead trout and the California tiger salamander. These undeveloped lands support teaching and research as well. The 1,200-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, for instance, provides fertile ground for field studies by researchers from Stanford and other universities. It’s also an outdoor classroom for Stanford and other college and university researchers and students, hundreds of K–12 students, and members of local organizations.
Heritage resources on Stanford land contribute significantly to the university’s academic success. Efforts to mitigate the potential impact of development on these resources include policies protecting archaeological sites and historically significant buildings as well as consultation with the indigenous Muwekma Ohlone tribe to ensure respect for their cultural values.
Stanford land also supports a substantial stock of housing, in addition to academic buildings. A residential university since its inception, Stanford provides student and faculty housing plus rental units available to the public.
Additionally, Stanford land supports:
- A major medical center that provides state-of-the-art health care meeting community and national needs while fulfilling the basic academic mission.
- A federal research facility (SLAC) that supports advancement of knowledge in energy and sub-atomic particle science.
- Commercial development that provides significant direct revenue to local jurisdictions and space for important local businesses (which, in-turn provide additional revenue and jobs).
- Agricultural uses including organic crop farming, plant nurseries and grazing.
Reflecting all these needs, Stanford’s land use and campus planning decisions consider a wide range of factors, including academic capital plans; the rate of land development; reuse, redevelopment and compact development possibilities; land productivity; retention of open space; and preservation needs.
Goals & Results
Stanford’s land use and campus planning policies are designed to conserve undeveloped lands and natural resources and maintain the campus’s character, heritage and quality of life—all while accommodating development of facilities needed to uphold our academic mission. To support these goals, the university strives to:
- Balance academic, research and residential uses and leverage existing land holdings and real estate to financially sustain the university’s mission and vision.
- Create a framework for growth and development that encourages flexibility, adaptability and connections that foster interdisciplinary research and education.
- Situate buildings to maximize opportunities for natural light and ventilation.
- Maintain current on-campus undergraduate residential accommodations and create a graduate student residential community to reduce commuter traffic.
- Pursue opportunities to use exterior spaces for residential and academic programming to minimize demands for new building square footage.
Examples of how we’re meeting these guidelines include:
In 2008, an additional 425,000 net new square feet of academic and 350 housing units resulted in site reuse through the demolition of existing buildings and parking lots and relocation of several historic homes to new sites on campus.
The County of Santa Clara recently approved a Sustainable Development Study aimed at promoting compact development of the campus and continued protection of resources in the undeveloped foothills. The Study was prepared and submitted in compliance with requirements of a General Use Permit issued and administered by the County.
In the Science and Engineering Quad, 41 acres of academic facilities, many built post World War II, are undergoing redevelopment to maximize land use efficiency. The redevelopment plan addresses current academic needs, integrates new technologies, upgrades utility and circulation systems and restores the historic campus axis and character.
Construction has commenced on the new Graduate School of Business Campus, a collection of buildings that support the new academic curriculum of the business school. Tracking to be one of the largest LEED Platinum certified Business Schools in the country, this complex replaces low density office buildings (80,000SF) surrounded by asphalt parking with higher density academic buildings (420,000SF) integrated with exterior program space.
Several historic Main Quad buildings have been adapted for new academic programs, upgraded to meet seismic strengthening requirementsn and interior space has been reallocated to create higher workplace densities that increase land and building capacity. The university restored the historic Leland Stanford Junior Museum after the Loma Prieta earthquake and added a wing to expand its collections capacity. It reopened as the Cantor Arts Center.
The renovation of the one of the campuses architectural gems, the Old Union, has been recently completed and serves as a Student Center housing key student government groups, diverse student clubs, and the religious life program which support over 30 student religious organizations.
Renovation is also underway for Peterson Labs, a historic stucco and sandstone structure, which will house multiple engineering programs.
Stanford has worked to restore our land’s predominate oak woodlands by adopting a 25-year vegetation management program. More recently, the University has begun working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to develop a long-term Habitat Conservation Plan for the California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, steelhead, western pond turtle, and San Francisco garter snake.
For more information, see the Land Use and Environmental Planning website.