Porter Drive Redevelopment

Porter Drive Redevelopment Project
Porter Drive Redevelopment Project

We always work to solve our clients’ problems. Sometimes, clients are very specific about how an issue should be resolved. In this case, Stanford wanted a new building, but didn’t want to disrupt any trees on the site. We found a way to rise to this challenge while implementing a solution that drastically enhanced the design.


Stanford University


Palo Alto, CA


Workplace, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interiors, Corporate Office Buildings, Commercial Office Buildings


101,083 SF

There are many things that make Stanford University world renowned. Its students. Its research. Its ranking as a top university. Less expected is its devotion to the trees which blanket its campus. When Stanford Real Estate decided to build a spec office to attract the kind of innovators and industry leaders it often partners with, preserving trees was a top priority. 

The campus is known for its bucolic qualities, a sort of utopia that meshes the finest of both worlds: academics and scenery. Covered in oak groves and pines, our team had no difficulty understanding the university’s unwillingness to disrupt its trees. We simply designed around them. 

Porter Drive Redevelopment SmithGroup

The overall site strategy started as an attempt to preserve as many trees as possible and quickly morphed into the basis for the design concept. Trees would not only remain untouched; they would become the thesis of the design, visible through all parts of the building.

Porter Drive Redevelopment SmithGroup
Porter Drive Redevelopment SmithGroup

The design combines technical manufacturing with handmade intervention, taking glass fiber reinforced concrete, and working with a subcontractor to individually modify each panel so an organic and wood-like texture results. When completed, 3181 Porter Drive will be distinguishable from the surrounding landscape – but only slightly.