Stanford's new McMurtry Building for the arts moves forward; noted architect selected for design

The new building will provide unified facilities for art history, art practice and film programs. The new interdisciplinary arts hub is part of a major investment in the arts across the campus.

The creation of a new center for the arts at Stanford has taken an important step forward with the selection of a prominent architectural firm to design the Burton and Deedee McMurtry Building.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro will design the new home for the Department of Art and Art History. The 90,000-square-foot building will serve as an interdisciplinary hub for the arts at Stanford and further the ongoing development of an "Arts District" at the entrance to campus. The new facility, named in recognition of Deedee and Burt McMurtry (MS '59, PhD '62), who provided a $30 million gift toward its creation, will be a cornerstone in Stanford's initiative to enhance and expand the role the arts play throughout campus.

The McMurtry Building will house the department's programs in art practice, design, art history, film and media studies, and documentary film, which currently occupy several different facilities on campus. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, selected for its experience and distinctive approach to architecture for the arts and education, will design the space to foster interaction and collaboration among students and faculty across artistic disciplines, and advance the integration of the arts and art history into other areas of the university.

Studios, classrooms, library and gallery planned

To be located adjacent to the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford's visual arts museum, the McMurtry Building will house state-of-the-art studios, screening spaces and classrooms, along with the Art and Architecture Library and gallery space for displaying student work. The building design process will take into consideration the various space needs, as well as logistical issues regarding the site and existing structures. Portland-based Boora Architects has been selected as the executive architect. Boora is the architect on the recently completed Graduate School of Business campus and the Science and Engineering Quad. Construction is expected to begin in 2012.

"The arts play a vital role in fostering the culture of creativity that defines life at Stanford," said President John L. Hennessy. "We are very grateful to Burt and Deedee McMurtry for their magnificent gift in support of this new facility. It will increase student engagement in the arts and serve as a catalyst for innovation throughout the university."

"Diller Scofidio + Renfro's creative process of exploration, experimentation and informed risk-taking resonates with Stanford's core values, making the firm an ideal partner for this project," said Burt McMurtry.

The Stanford Arts Initiative, launched in 2006, comprises significant investments in the arts across campus, including the creation and endowment of new arts facilities, faculty positions and graduate fellowships, and academic and extracurricular programs designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and facilitate arts experiences across campus.

More than $250 million raised

To date, over $250 million has been raised for the initiative, including funding for the new 844-seat Bing Concert Hall. This state-of-the-art performance venue, designed by Ennead Architects and set to open in January 2013, joins the Cantor Arts Center, the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, Memorial Auditorium and Pigott Theater as part of the Arts District in ongoing development in the heart of the Stanford campus.

"By bringing together all our visual arts programs in close proximity to the Cantor Arts Center, the McMurtry Building will promote the kind of exchange that sparks creativity and innovation," said Nancy J. Troy, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. "The building also gives us the resources we need to serve Stanford students' ever-increasing desire to incorporate art-making into their educational experience."

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) integrates architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts. The design studio was founded in New York City by Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio; Charles Renfro was made a partner in 2004. Both Diller and Scofidio are recipients of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, which recognized their commitment to integrating architecture with issues of contemporary culture. They were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and named among Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2009. Other prestigious honors received by DS+R include the National Design Award from the Smithsonian Institution, the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and numerous Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects.

DS+R's current projects include the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles and a new facility for the Columbia Business School in New York City. The firm recently completed the new Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University, as well as the redesign of Alice Tully Hall and the renovation and expansion of the Juilliard School, both part of the firm's work for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Cynthia Haven, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,