“Space is the biggest need we have at the law school right now,” said Frank Brucato, senior associate dean and chief financial officer for Stanford Law School. • Faculty and staff at the school would agree. With basement rooms coveted as precious real estate, staff doubled-up in offices, and whole departments relocated off campus due to space limitations, Brucato’s statement rings true. But what is driving the space crunch?
It is a success story, said Brucato, who attributes the law school’s drive to expand programs and establish academic centers in a wide range of areas as the main reason for new faculty, supporting staff, and researchers coming on board. There has been a lot of activity at the law school since the “new” building opened at Crown Quadrangle in the 1970s—and real growth in programs, centers, and clinics over the last few years. Opportunities for study and research now exist that students in the 1970s might not have even imagined. Of the school’s 16 programs and centers, seven were established in the 2005–06 school year alone, covering a diverse range of areas such as corporate governance, criminal justice, intellectual property, and constitutional law. And since 2000, seven new clinics have been added to the revitalized Clinical Education Program, with several more planned to launch in the coming years—all requiring support and research staff. Add to this a 22 percent growth in JD and LLM student enrollment since 1975, and the need for new space at the law school seems clear.
A new academic building
Brucato joined Larry Kramer, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean, in gauging alumni support for a new academic building at the Dean’s Advisory Council meeting last year. After making the case for the project with a comprehensive space analysis, the message back from the group was overwhelmingly supportive. “They saw the need and said ‘You need to find a way to build and build quickly,’” said Brucato. Early support for the project is encouraging. Indeed, the law school just announced a commitment for the new building of $20 million from William H. Neukom ’67, former Microsoft general counsel and current chair of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP. While still in the early stages and subject to Stanford University Board of Trustees approval, the project is taking shape: an 80,000-square-foot, four-story structure to house new classrooms, clinics, offices, and meeting space that will cost an estimated $45 million to complete, said Brucato.
“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,” said Neukom.
The design of the building will emphasize open common areas and use architecture to foster cooperation among faculty, law students, and the greater university community. The new site will also be designed to encourage the sort of informal interaction among faculty and students that is a hallmark of Stanford.
“A building can be significant, not just as a physical space, but symbolically as well,” said Kramer. “This new building, and the opportunity it affords us to promote our vision architecturally, will be the foundation upon which all else rests. A building that fosters interaction will go far to create a more engaged and engaging environment, all to the benefit of the teaching and scholarship that goes on at the school.”
The Munger Graduate Residence
Students are feeling the space crunch too, said Brucato. Faced with the option of living in Crothers Hall, a dormitory not much changed since its opening in the late 1940s, many are opting for off-campus housing, and so not fully benefiting from Stanford’s interdisciplinary campus experience. But with the generous donation of $43 million from Charles and Nancy Munger (BA ’45), construction is under way for the Munger Graduate Residence, which is slated to open in fall 2009.
Conceived of by the Mungers as a model for interdisciplinary living and learning for students from across Stanford University, the five-building residence will have ample common space to encourage community including a pub, courtyard, and conference rooms. The apartments, comparable in size and quality to the best in the area according to Brucato, will go a long way toward alleviating the housing crunch on campus by providing approximately 600 beds in various studio, one-, two-, and four-bedroom configurations. Centrally located directly across from the law school, the total cost of the five-building residence is currently estimated at $173 million, said Brucato.
A new approach to housing
Tom Russo JD/MBA ’83 was quick to see the importance of the Munger Graduate Residence and how it will enhance interdisciplinary education at Stanford Law School. A portfolio manager and partner at the investment firm Garner, Russo & Garner, Russo has been an active volunteer at the law school and has served on the board of visitors for more than six years. With his donation, the reception area at the residence will now be called the Thomas (JD/MBA ’83) and Georgina Russo Reception Area and Main Lobby.
“Charlie and Nancy Munger have led with tremendous generosity and vision Stanford Law School’s drive to build an incomparable residence hall. My wife and I are delighted to support this effort that will provide Stanford with a building whose design will greatly enhance the entire experience of graduate studies,” said Russo.