News on Campus

The first part of Stanford’s facelift is finished

It is the biggest building boom since the founding of the university: nearly $1 billion in remodeling and construction in just eight years. After a summer-long construction blitz, the university can boast a renovated Memorial Auditorium, an expanded Serra Mall, two new graduate residences and a facelift that included nearly two dozen parking and repaving works. Many other major projects are approaching completion.

But that is just information for outsiders.

For insiders like Ken Sherwin, things have a different look. In early August, Sherwin, a white-haired lab technician, knew time was running out as he struggled to remove wooden planks from a bookshelf in the 40-year-old Physics Tank. The following day the electricity was turned off, leaving the officially named Bloch Auditorium in the dark for good. A demolition crew moved in with a wrecking machine to chew up the walkway roof and columns surrounding the lecture hall. The noisy machine, which maneuvered across the ground like a crab, pounded away at the concrete walls of the “hatbox,” as the building was nicknamed by oldtimers.

“Almost from the day it was built, architects have wanted to get rid of it,” 77-year-old Sherwin said. “[The tank] doesn’t blend in. It doesn’t have a tile roof.”

The removal of the tank, built in 1957, clears the way for a palm-lined pathway leading from the Inner Quad to the new Science and Engineering Quadrangle, or SEQ, which is scheduled for completion in 1998. It will restore the intent of architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1888 plan for the layout of the university.

The SEQ project also includes four new buildings: Electrical Engineering, Statistics, the SEQ Teaching Facility and a new Materials Research Annex. The new buildings will be integrated into the heart of the university with a courtyard that complements the original mission-style architecture.

Stanford’s Facelift (Plain text)

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