Li Ka Shing Center at Stanford. Site of the 2012 SCUP Pacific Region Conference

Having just returned from the Society of College and University Planners (SCUP) Pacific Regional Conference at Stanford University, it’s my opinion that that SCUP puts on some of the best meetings I’ve ever attended.  With attendance limited, the conference is much more collegial than most. It’s a nice blend of design professionals and college and university planners – all of whom are extremely friendly.  Within a day you begin to greet familiar faces and occasionally someone will come up and say: “Didn’t I see you in Seattle last year?”

During the course of the conference, the attendees met in the Li Ka Shing Center in the Stanford Medical School, a fabulous new teaching center with some of the most advanced instructional technology around. It was nice to rub elbows with medical students rather than be in an anonymous hotel ballroom. Two Norman Foster buildings on the new Medical School Quadrangle bracketed the center where we met.

In addition to touring the facilities on the Stanford campus, I went on tours of the new UCSF Mission Bay campus and the Google campus in Mountain View.

At UCSF we learned about the layering of public and interactive space from macro to micro scale. New lab buildings serving 500- 600 staff are designed so that researchers, often immersed in very individual projects, will encounter each other on a regular basis. The center focuses on cross-disciplinary discovery and “translational” research facilities that link research to ground floor clinics serving patients.

At Google I learned that if you are lucky enough to get a job there, you might never buy groceries or cook again! Goggle provides up to three full free meals a day, unlimited snacks in the Micro Kitchens on each floor and has 26 cafes on the Mountain View campus. I never realized that there were 15,000 people in Mountain View helping to answer my “Google” enquiries.  This is not to mention their offices in 60 countries.

The individual presentations during the conference proper were informative and generally fast paced, providing a lot of information about master planning and higher education facility design. The three days I spent there were totally engaging and I came back with lots of information to share with our team at TLCD Architecture.

Flamingos devouring T-Rex at the Googleplex in Mountain View

UCSF Mission Bay Campus