Photos: Walters & Wolf

“What really got our attention was precast’s help in achieving the Architectural 2030 goal for 2015.”

Jeff Carlson


Sustainable Design Award

Higher Education and Universities

William H. Neukom Building at Stanford Law School

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Prominently sited south of the existing law school complex at Stanford University, the 65,000 ft2  (6,000 m2) expansion creates a new focal point along the principal circulation route linking the campus’s residential and academic precincts.

The building’s appearance, designed to maintain continuity with the university’s master plan, features architectural precast concrete panels for its cladding. The panels helped achieve the project’s goals of minimizing the energy footprint with their thermal mass and of maximizing the building’s aesthetic uniformity by combining limestone-clad and exposed-aggregate precast concrete panels.

The energy-performance goal for the building was to exceed the California Title 24 Energy Code by a minimum of 30%. This was achieved with a variety of techniques, including passive architectural strategies, such as the use of precast concrete panels, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and water-reducing products. The final design is calculated to reduce energy consumption by 32% and outperform the average comparable building in energy usage by 76%, making it compliant with the Architecture 2030 Challenge target for 2015.

“We selected this project due to its many sustainable aspects,” says Jeff Carlson, a member of the special awards jury. “The precast concrete offered high thermal efficiency to help the building control heat gain and other sustainable-design concepts. What really got our attention was precast’s help in achieving the Architectural 2030 goal for 2015 with the overall sustainability approach of this project.”

The 153 panels feature pieces of French limestone from the St. Maximin area in France, which were shipped to the precaster and integrated into the large panels, some measuring 8 × 27 ft (2.4 × 8.2 m). Limestone thicknesses of 30, 50, and 70 mm (1,2, 2.0, and 2.8 in.) added depth and texture on all four sides. Design meetings and mockups helped ensure that the stone patterns provided the ideal appearance.

To achieve the desired running-bond and stone-relief patterns, the stone pattern was created using surface stones and blockouts to fit the available stones. The projecting stones then were hand set into blockouts by the precaster, saving extensive mold costs.

In the field, the precaster developed a system of hand-setting the limestone over the precast concrete panel joints, creating the running-bond design. This provided continuity and also hid the joints.

To continue the limestone appearance on the interior, stone-clad precast concrete panels were installed on both the exterior and interior sides along the window system, with limestone hand set at the intersections. This approach created a seamless transition that is waterproof and eliminated thermal bridging.

“The jury was quite impressed with the level of finish and detail,” says Dave Craddock, one of the jurists. “The precast allowed the designers to express themselves artistically and achieve a high level of finish.”

Location: Palo Alto. Calif.
Owner: The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
Architect: Ennead Architects, New York, N.Y.,
Engineer: Degenkolb Engineers, Oakland, Calif.
Contractor: Dome Construction, South San Francisco, Calif.
Precaster: Walters & Wolf Precast, Fremont, Calif.,
Project Size: 65,000 ft2 (6,000 m2)
Project Cost: $40 million