How Stanford's Architect Combines Old and New


Stanford University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, also has one of the most exquisite campuses in the world. From its vast green fields to its Romanesque and Baroque structures, Stanford University incorporates diverse architectural styles that remain constant in a sea of changing economic times and design trends. 

Recently, The Modern Architect welcomed David Lenox, University Architect and Director of Campus Planning at Stanford University for an enthralling discussion about the various design processes that are embedded in the campus infrastructure and history, as well as his unique responsibility.

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How Stanford's Architect Combines Old and New

Stanford Memorial Church by Charles A. Coolidge in 1989

After many years of working in Ohio at one of the nation's top design firms, NBBJ, Lenox joined Stanford as University Architect in March 2005. Since 1997, Lenox worked as a dedicated principal at NBBJ and fervently led an interdisciplinary team of 40 architects, designers, and planners active across several industry sectors. Though a great deal of his experience fell within commercial and corporate design, Lenox harbored a deep appreciation for working in the academic and health sectors. 

As the top in-house architect at Stanford, Lenox is inherently held to a high standard when it comes to sustaining the history of such an iconic campus while simultaneously supporting it to flourish through innovative design. 

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How Stanford's Architect Combines Old and New

David Lenox, Stanford University Architect

In May 2017, Stanford announced an expansion of the campus to Redwood City––a remarkable milestone given that the campus had not taken on any major expansions in over 125 years. As many public and private universities see increased issues of overcrowding and impacted spaces throughout their campuses, Stanford hopes to combat this issue by expanding beyond their main campus off Highway 101.

With 35 acres of land to be utilized at the point of expansion, Stanford University will have the capacity to employ at least 2,700 workers, making it the second largest employer in Redwood City. The collaboration of campus and city is meant to advocate for sustainability, growth, and innovation. 

How Stanford's Architect Combines Old and New

Stanford University Central Energy Facility by ZGF Architects, photo by Matthew Anderson

“And I knew I really wanted to do a great job on this [stem cell research facility] because something great is going to happen in this building.”

How Stanford's Architect Combines Old and New

Lenox talks about Stanford’s Redwood City expansion, photo by Karl Mondon

Lenox and his team operate in a way that allows for compassion and skill to be the major focuses of the project. Learning about the different civic tasks he must take on across so many versatile sectors, Lenox has a truly holistic and diverse view of the campus. As a result, his unique perspective culminates in structures that embody spirituality and morality for the students on Stanford’s campus. 

Listen to the interview

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