Photos: Bernard Andre Photography

“Precast concrete allowed the designers to use the same materials as neighboring buildings and apply them in their own unique way.”

Dave Craddock


High Tech and Laboratory Structures

Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building at Stanford University

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Taking its cues from both the historical architecture of Stanford University’s main campus and the mid-20th century vernacular of its medical campus, the new stem-cell research building reflects the administration’s goal of creating a modern medical-research environment. Flexibility, cost effectiveness, and collaboration were enhanced by the use of limestone-veneered architectural precast concrete and glass-fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) wall panels to clad the building’s exterior.

To maintain consistency among the buildings on the campus, limestone veneer was attached to the panels in some locations. Using this precast concrete panel system dramatically improved the construction schedule and reduced construction costs. GFRC covers were used on minor columns to complement the aesthetics of the limestone-veneered architectural precast concrete wall panels and curtain-wall system.

“Precast concrete allowed the designers to use the same materials as neighboring buildings and apply them in their own unique way, while giving the building’s envelope the proper attention,” says Dave Craddock, a member of the buildings awards jury.

The large atrium features precast concrete along its facade, fronted by a glazed curtain-wall system. The atrium promoted privacy for research labs while maximizing transparency and integration of indoor and outdoor community spaces. It also serves as a pedestrian thoroughfare, offering a highly trafficked face for the facility. Special attention was paid to minimizing panel joints to create continuity from exterior to interior faces.

The building was designed to exceed requirements for LEED silver certification. This included sun shades on east, west, and south facades, which were attached to the precast concrete panels. The precast concrete components also helped achieve certification through their energy-efficient thermal mass, local manufacture, control of construction waste, and recyclability.

Sophisticated controls were provided for the HVAC system, while clerestory glazing in the atrium and daylight glazing in the labs increased natural light and reduced the need for electrical illumination. A variety of other sustainable-design concepts were included, such as rainwater harvesting systems. A recent campus energy survey indicated that the stem-cell research building is the most energy-efficient laboratory on campus.

“This project showed the interesting way that precast concrete can relate with other materials,” says Tom Brock, a member of the buildings awards jury. “The designers used precast as the general structural material and repeated that over and over, and then juxtaposed that against metal panels. The proportioning, detailing, and overall articulation was universally appreciated by the jury.”

Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
Owner: The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
Architect: ZGF Architects LLP, Portland, Ore.,
Engineer: Rutherford and Chekene, San Francisco, Calif.
Contractor: Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Pleasanton, Calif.
Precaster: Walters and Wolf Precast, Fremont. Calif.,
Project size: 204,640 ft2 (19,000 m2)
Project cost: $133.8 million