New Stanford Law School Building Opens — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Speak at May 20 Dedication for the William H. Neukom Building

Updated May 20, 2011

“The William H. Neukom building creates a space in which to achieve our goals and is the foundation upon which all else rests,” said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer. “This building will foster interaction and collaboration, which are essential to a rich educational experience and the kind of intellectual environment that is the hallmark of Stanford Law School.”


Designed by Ennead Architects, the new building is organized around a central open space, reinforcing the principles of the law school’s vision for intellectual openness, as well as Frederick Law Olmsted’s original master plan for Stanford University. Partners Richard Olcott and Don Weinreich led the design team.

A monumental rotunda, Barnum Tower, which references the historic entry gates on the main quad, serves as the building’s main entrance. Four three-story wings, connected by glass-walled bridges anchored by a ground-floor plinth house the Mills Legal Clinic, seminar rooms, faculty offices, open work areas, and conference rooms.

The rotunda’s open-air staircase leads to the faculty garden and upper levels, which house offices for faculty, a series of open and closed meeting areas and lounges, the dean’s suite, and the dean’s conference room—a circular, wood-clad, sky-lit space. Faculty suites promote “open door” scholarship and establish a welcoming atmosphere for faculty and students.

Interconnected, communal spaces facilitate the kind of informal interaction among faculty and between faculty and students that is a hallmark of Stanford. The law school is well known for its low student to faculty ratio, and tradition of open-door accessibility to students.

The faculty garden on the second floor, the Jones Courtyard, is the heart of the new building and expands the law school’s outdoor spaces, which includes the reinvigorated Crocker Garden and Canfield Court.

The courtyard is composed of multiple materials, including sustainably harvested ipe wood from Brazil.  Bold axial connections to adjacent plazas, walkways, malls and building entries further define the law school’s open spaces. The garden facades of each of the four wings are articulated by planar limestone walls.  Stone and corrugated concrete – exterior building materials that are extended to the interior – figuratively reinforce the law school’s strategic connection with other disciplines within the university.

The building reflects the university’s sustainability initiative and satisfies the equivalent of a LEED Gold Certification by meeting key sustainability requirements in the areas of site planning; water management; energy use; materials, resources, and waste; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design.

The floor systems in both Crocker Garden and the Terrace facilitate infiltration of rainwater to the water table. Local plant species were selected to reduce water use, while pre-existing redwood trees were left untouched. Indoor air quality is optimized through ventilation.

The New Landscape of Legal Education

“Stanford Law School is dedicated to educating students who will become leaders in their profession and in their communities—in a world that is increasingly complex and ever changing,” said William H. Neukom. “It is my hope that this new building will enhance a learning experience at the law school that prepares and inspires our students and faculty to make a difference.”

Mr. Neukom, Managing General Partner and CEO of the San Francisco Giants and former ABA president and Microsoft general counsel, is counted among Stanford Law School’s most prominent graduates. He has a long history of providing leadership within the alumni community. He has served as a member of the Dean’s Strategic Council since 2000 and as a member of the Board of Visitors Executive Committee since 2003. The William H. Neukom Professor of Law at Stanford Law School was established in 2002. The chair supports faculty working in Mr. Neukom’s fields of interest, namely human rights, intellectual property rights, ethics and legal responsibility, global rule of law issues, and antitrust and consumer protection.

Reflecting on his aspirations for the future of the school, Dean Kramer said, “We can continue to develop a model of legal education that prepares lawyers for the changing terrain of the profession. Globalization, the new economy, the information revolution and other changes demand that we transform legal education as much as they do business, government, and the legal profession. And no law school in the nation is better suited than Stanford to prepare students for these fundamental shifts in the profession and in society.”

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.