About Stanford

The Campus Plan

In 1876, Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of what had been El Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his Palo Alto Stock Farm for trotting horses. In 1885, a year and a half after the death of their only child, Jane and Leland Stanford executed a deed of trust conveying the farm, along with several other parcels of land, to the trustees for the founding of the Leland Stanford Junior University. The size and varied topography of the 8,180 acres of foothills and plains they left to Stanford in the center of the San Francisco Peninsula provide a rare opportunity for comprehensive land use and resource management. About 60 percent of Stanford’s land today remains open.

The Stanfords traveled widely before founding Stanford and wanted the Main Quadrangle and the Palm Drive main entrance to reflect European Beaux Arts formalism. They engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, the foremost landscape architect of the time. The Stanfords’ collaboration with Olmsted and the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge resulted in California Mission-inspired buildings of local sandstone with red-tiled roofs, surrounding a cloistered quadrangle with Memorial Church as its focus. The rectangular plan of the Main Quadrangle was designed to provide for expansion through a series of quadrangles developed laterally. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Great Depression and World War II intervened. The university’s campus planning today, however, has returned to the original concept of quadrangles and connecting malls in its design.

Today’s Campus

Stanford University is located on 8,180 acres in the center of the San Francisco Peninsula. Stanford is a self-sustaining community featuring 49 miles of roads, two separate water systems, three dams, three open water reservoirs, 88 miles of water mains and a post office. Stanford's Central Energy Facility utilizes heat recovery and thermal storage to maximize efficiency in the university's heating and cooling systems. Stanford provides or contracts for its own fire, police and other services.

There are about 700 buildings at Stanford that incorporate more than 15.3 million square feet square. About 60 percent of these buildings are larger than 5,000 square feet and account for more than 15 million square feet of the total.

Ninety-six percent of undergraduates live on campus, as do about 62 percent of graduate students and 30 percent of faculty members. There are 850 owner-occupied housing units for faculty on campus, as well as 628 rental units for faculty and staff.

Stanford, excluding the hospitals, provides more than 19,000 parking spaces. More than 7,400 vehicle spaces are distributed within seven parking structures.

There are more than 43,000 trees on the Stanford campus, with the native California Coast Live Oak the most common. There are more than 800 different species of plants. The inner campus includes about 1.1 million square feet of shrubs, 143,000 linear feet of groundcovers, 1.3 million square feet of green areas and 2,700 automatic irrigation valves. There are 25 fountains.

The Stanford campus also encompasses the 70-acre, 140-retail-store Stanford Shopping Center, built in 1955, and the 700-acre, 150-company Stanford Research Park, created in 1951.

The main Stanford campus is located in six different governmental jurisdictions:

  • 4,017 acres in unincorporated Santa Clara
  • 2,701 acres in unincorporated San Mateo County
  • 1,161 acres in Palo Alto
  • 114 acres in Woodside
  • 111 acres in Menlo Park
  • 76 acres in Portola Valley

Sustainable Stanford

Stanford prioritizes sustainability in the stewardship of its lands and operations of its facilities:

  • The Stanford Energy System Innovations program reduces campus greenhouse emission by 50 percent and decreases potable water use by 15 percent, exceeding California’s AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act5.
  • Energy retrofits save more than 46 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year—equal to about 22 percent of the university's annual electricity consumption.
  • A 23 percent reduction in domestic water use has been achieved since 2001, despite the addition of more than 2 million gross square feet.
  • The recycling program diverts 64 percent of waste from landfills.
  • About 40 percent of Stanford food is sustainably sourced from local farms and manufacturers or is third-party certified.
  • Designated a Platinum-Level “Bicycle Friendly University,” Stanford boasts 13,000 bikes on campus daily, 12 miles of bike lanes and 18,000 bike parking spaces. Eighteen percent of commuters bike to work.
  • Employee drive-alone rate has been reduced from 72 percent in 2002 to 49 percent in 2014. Transit ridership is up from 8 to 27 percent.
  • There are nine electric vehicle-charging stations on campus.
  • Ridership on the free Marguerite bus system increased to 2.3 million in 2013, up 21 percent from 2012. In 2014, 51 percent of employees commuted via alternative transportation.

The transportation program includes the free 79-bus, 24-route Marguerite system running 13 electric buses, five diesel-electric hybrid buses and 51 buses fueled by biodiesel; the 8,750-member Commute Club; free transit on Caltrain, VTA, Dumbarton Express and AC Transit’s Line U; half off ACE train; Zipcar car sharing; commute planning; charter services; and a bike program.

This page last modified Aug 25, 2015.