Culture Club

Culture Club

The exterior elevation expresses a large inner stairway.
Courtesy DSR

Next fall, art students and art history students in Stanford University’s Art and Art History Department will work and learn together side by side for the first time. Diller, Scofidio, + Renfro (DS+R) is designing the 96,000-square-foot building with Portland, Oregon–based firm Boora Architects as executive architect. By bringing students from both disciplines into the same space, the university hopes the Burton and Deedee McMurtry Building––named after an alumnus and his wife who donated $30 million toward the project––will help foster collaborative learning and teaching opportunities for students and faculty.


DS+R’s design is composed of three parts: a wing for art history, one for art, and an art and architecture library. Each section is defined by a different facade treatment. The art program has a custom zinc enclosure, the art history wing is finished with stucco—a material found throughout Stanford’s campus—and the library is enclosed by glass. Drawing inspiration from the arcaded courtyards of Stanford’s historic buildings, DS+R designed an upper courtyard around the oculus that tops a ground level courtyard, providing outdoor spaces for critiques, presentations, and relaxing.

Glassy interior spaces in the library (left). upper level courtyard provides open space above the ground plane (right).

Inside, the lower level accommodates facilities for film editing, computer labs, and photography darkrooms. The ground floor houses screening rooms and a sculpture studio with a glass roll-up door on the east facade to let students bring their work outside. A flexible space on the second floor can be converted into a performance or gallery area, or a classroom with 120 retractable seats. The third floor houses faculty offices.