Project Fall 2013

elop*6 - Crossroads / Crossfunctions - Stanford / Palo Alto

elop* has been engaged since its outset in 2009 in complex tasks that can only successfully be tackled by multi-disciplinary teams. elop* works with students and faculty from an international network of partner universities (elop*alliance).


After 5 editions that have taken place in Switzerland (x3), China and Gemany, in 2013 the program goes to USA for the first time. Standorf University, an elope*alliance partner, has taken the initiative to organise elop*6.


The challenging and complex nature of the context and the theme at stake are ideal for an elop* project. The inspiring research and academic environment of Stanford and Silicon Valley bring an extra layer of motivation to the project.


The elop*6 project "crossroads / crossfunctions - Stanford / Palo Alto" has its specific focus on innovative concepts for future sustainable solutions in multifunctional infrastructural environments and in dealing with stakeholders of diverse nature and position (academic institution, real estate investors, infrastructural planners, local population, administration).



Project Topic "Crossroads / Crossfunctions"

Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto live in quiet competition with each other. Much of the non-academic space of the campus lies in the jurisdiction of Palo Alto (the shopping center, hospital, research park etc.). Palo Alto provides some utilities to the campus, all the fire protection and, separately the world-renowned Palo Alto Unified School District, educates the children of faculty and graduate students at schools located both on and off the Stanford campus. Stanford, in turn, offers world-class facilities, walking trails, and entertainment events for the community while maintaining a rigorous stand of independence its land use.



Recently a piece of campus land right at the edge of campus and bordering downtown, Palo Alto, now refereed to as 27 University Avenue, which has been largely vacant, has been suggested for large scale development. The proposal has come from a Stanford benefactor and regional developer, John Arrillaga. His proposal is to build several tall buildings (8 stories) and a theater to support the local arts. The development is largely suburban in nature and proposes building much taller than Palo Alto normally allows. Palo Alto has a 50' (15.25 meters) height limit so this development has been doubly controversial; after all building on nearly empty land and the densities suggested, has raised discussion levels considerably. It should be noted that the theater would be the gift of "public benefit" in exchange for the right to build the taller than otherwise allowed buildings. Though Stanford has been relatively quiet about this development it is clear that they see this area as a potential site of a 21st Century Research Park; an area that can link the University more tightly to the start-up community beyond is borders.


Recently the city of Palo Alto has suggested some time is needed to discuss, consider the necessary zoning issues and develop a real plan for the area. This is wise as the land, though on the campus is disconnected from the main campus by a wide boulevard and there are large and complex infrastructure issues associated with the area that should be considered at the same time. Not the least of these infrastructure issues is the imminent construction of a High Speed Rail line that will run at the edge of the site and encompass the train station. Further the 1940's era intersection just east of the site is badly in need of updating.


Thus this is your task. Develop a localized plan for this piece of land that takes an affirmative stand as to its status as campus, or city, or both, develops a 21st Century Resarch Park and a maintains smart-growth principals, advances green building, suggest improvements to the transportation infrastructure and anticipates future growth.


  elop6_Historic map



Leland and Jane Stanford founded Stanford University in memory of their son who died of typhoid at the age of 15. The campus was placed in the center of a large piece of land (7000 acres) owned by the family. This land was, and is, adjacent to and contiguous with the Palo Alto train station and the City of Palo Alto. This is not a coincidence. Stanford came into his fortune through railway purchases, land purchases and various questionable financial dealings. Stanford was one of the original "Robber Barons" of the 19th century.


That the campus was placed at the center of this large tract of land, away from the city, was intentional. Designed as a memorial and as "A Place Apart" the campus is noted for its long formal paths and distance from the town and its insular and focused qualities.


Over time, this distance has remained and the land between the campus and the city has remained largely undeveloped.


The City of Palo Alto grew as the university did, and has served as the home community for the university for over a hundred years. Though much of the growth of the town occurred after WW II, the downtown has remained a thriving 2 and 3-story area with a few taller buildings. Palo Alto's population is about 70,000 and is one of the wealthiest communities in America.


Palo Alto's is a broadly liberal city and a leader in green building. The city owns its own utilities and now buys over 20% of its electricity from renewable resources, maintains thousand of acres of parkland, offers an astounding range of public services and has a vigorous and often time-consuming political dialogue.


The wealth of Palo Alto is a direct result of both the Universitiy's proximity and many generations of wise and entrepreneurial leaders. The University in the 1930's developed its "Industrial Park" on campus land just east of campus. This area has served as the start-up engine of the Silicon Valley ever since and boasts the world headquarters of Hewlett Packard and many other companies. Similarly Palo Alto as a whole has become a hub of venture capital and start-up ventures. Google, Facebook, e-Trade, Yahoo and many other companies were either founded in Palo Alto or moved their first headquarters there. Palo Alto attracts so much business that during the day the population expands to 140,000 people and the Palo Alto train station is the busiest in the area.


Project site between Stanford Campus and Palo Alto City



Brochure elop*6


Presentation Joint Review in Burgdorf 20.06.2013


Application until July 5th


More information about the elop* project see following link