Sapp Center for Science Teaching & Learning

, Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Sapp exterior dusk
Study space and stairs
Study space
tiered classroom

Having sustained significant damage from multiple earthquakes during the last century-plus, the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning stood vacant and fenced off from the rest of the Stanford University campus for more than 30 years. Page's task? Bring back the historic fabric and exterior of the 1903 structure while transforming its interior to meet the needs of modern science — all while working in a Zone 4 (the highest) seismic zone.

The modernization of the Sapp Center, known to students and faculty as Old Chem, is a key component of Stanford’s long-range vision to create a Biology/Chemistry District along the campus’ formal entrance. The resulting 61,000-square-foot modernization is an outstanding example of how architecture, engineering, and preservation experts work together to create high-performing and innovative facilities.

The design brings together laboratories, a science library, display areas, an auditorium, and classrooms. Collaboration spaces foster intellectual collisions, and the program emphasizes openness and light, thanks to extensive interior glazing and the central skylight. A good steward of the environment, the team integrated stormwater management into the design and landscaping, capturing and repurposing 90% of the runoff.

In association with CAW Architects, the team preserved as many of the historic elements of the building as possible, including retaining the exterior sandstone and cladding the 13,000-square-foot addition in complementary French limestone. Old lab tables were repurposed in the library, telling the stories of researchers past. And, original windows with etched messages from former students were carefully maintained. The revitalized building is a testament to Old Chem’s impact on generations of students.

Serving as an anchor to the future of Stanford’s Life Sciences Quad, the Sapp Center breathes new life into the last and largest of the monumental “Noble Structures” on Stanford’s campus.

In association with CAW Architects

Building Facts

  • 61,000 SF Modernization
  • 30,000 SF Addition