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Preservation conference shines spotlight on Stanford’s achievements

Old Chemistry Building

The Old Chemistry Building has been renovated into the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning. (Joy Leighton)

May 16 2018

When it comes to architecture, Stanford is known for both innovation and preservation, say Stanford experts taking part in this week’s California Preservation Conference “Deep Roots in Dynamic Times” May 17-20 in Palo Alto.

The conference is organized by the California Preservation Foundation. Stanford is a sponsor of the event, along with the City of Palo Alto and Palo Alto Stanford Heritage.

“Stanford has an ongoing effort to steward and maintain its historic resources,” said University Architect DAVID LENOX, who will speak  Friday morning, May 18, at 9 a.m. at downtown Palo Alto’s landmark St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

The recent renovation of the Old Chemistry Building, vacant since 1987, is perhaps one of Stanford’s most compelling commitments to stewardship, Lenox said. Since coming to Stanford in 2005, Lenox has led development of a campus master plan that restores and reinvigorates FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED‘s original university plan of interconnecting quadrangles as a framework for growth in the 21st century.

“As our team worked with the departments and university leadership on the revitalization of Old Chem to serve as the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, we saw an opportunity to envision a result that would not only leverage its architectural heritage and colorful history, but also breathe new life into the building,” Lenox said.

California Preservation Conference tours and sessions will explore the Stanford Arboretum and Arizona Garden, restored largely by volunteers in the early 2000s; the campus’ resilience in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes; the Stanford Research Park’s role in transforming Silicon Valley in the mid-20th century; and the midcentury buildings from that growth spurt that are now themselves coming up for preservation status.

Other topics include the challenge of sea-level rise to preservation efforts; the work to save NASA Ames Research Center’s iconic Hangar One in Sunnyvale; documenting California’s Mexican-American architectural heritage; and a screening of People in Glass Houses, a documentary on architect Joseph Eichler.

More conference information is here.