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“Promoting Excellence in Law and Learning” William H. Neukom Building
Stanford, CA 2011

Architect: Ennead Architects

Associate Architect: MKThink

Challenge

How can a building help a school reinforce its identity and produce lawyers prepared to address today’s multi-disciplinarian problems?   Stanford Law School’s long-standing dedication to excellence in legal education has consistently earned it a top ranking among the nation’s pre-eminent law schools.  In recent years, it has experienced a growing population of faculty and students, a resulting shortage space, and the mission to teach its students how to handle a complex legal realm.  With a state-of-the-art Law Clinic and faculty building, the right solution would provide graduates with an extraordinary collaborative environment enabling them to learn how to address today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenges.

Approach & Solution

The architectural team explored design strategies that would encourage collaboration between faculty and student, and a visual aesthetic that would strengthen the school’s brand & identity. Key space programs such as the Law Clinic and student seminar rooms would best serve the populace (which includes select public seeking special council) by being as accessible as possible on the ground floor.  Locating the Law Clinic on the ground floor, front and center, signifies the School’s commitment to this teaching model and to the community.  The predominance of faculty offices are positioned on upper floors, bracketed at the corners by breakout lounges and meeting spaces that foster student/faculty interaction.  A central courtyard surrounded allows all to have serene views and maximum natural light exposure.  The project also considers other human and environmental factors, by providing a high degree of occupant control over natural/artificial light and thermal comfort settings, glare control, and indoor air quality, with the use of smart-building control systems.   The building was designed inside and out to connect to the current school facility with visual references as well as with the larger campus by clever positioning along a main pedestrian thoroughfare.  The building enhances this quadrant of the campus and the status of the Law School amongst its peers.