When Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR) opened to its first residents last month, it was the culmination of more than five years of planning, collaboration and construction to create much-needed on-campus housing for more than 2,400 graduate students.
“We are excited to welcome the inaugural cohort of students to their new home in the Escondido Village Graduate Residences. This substantial commitment by Stanford will significantly help meet the demand for subsidized on-campus housing, especially in a challenging Bay Area housing market,” said Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), who played an instrumental role in conceptualizing the project and leading the design of its residential programs and operations.
This project has been a tremendous opportunity to reimagine graduate student housing at Stanford University.
— Shirley Everett
Stanford’s largest-ever housing development, EVGR’s four buildings are located on the east side of campus along Serra Street, Campus Drive East, and Escondido Road. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the need for greater physical distancing in undergraduate residence halls, one of the buildings will house undergraduate students during the 2020-21 academic year.
“I am deeply appreciative of the phenomenal work and coordination required to bring EVGR to completion,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Throughout the planning and construction phases, the groups working on the project – led by Residential & Dining Enterprises; Student Affairs; Land, Buildings & Real Estate; and the Office of Development—have engaged in a truly collaborative process with graduate students and other stakeholders to create a remarkable community on campus for thousands of current and future students. The result of their efforts is a wonderful new residence for many of our graduate students that will support their learning and personal growth during their time at Stanford.”
Alumnus and longtime Stanford supporter John Arrillaga, ’60, played a vital role in building EVGR. He provided more than $100 million in cash for the project and helped cover significant costs in other ways, such as by lending his expertise in real estate development and project management throughout planning and construction, and by helping secure major subcontracts. Arrillaga’s design aesthetic influenced many architectural and landscape elements of the project. An anonymous donor, who also has been instrumental in supporting a number of projects across campus, provided additional financial support.
“John’s extraordinary support allowed the university to rapidly take EVGR from conception to completion, adding over 2,400 student beds on campus and helping our graduate students struggling with regional housing availability and affordability,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “I am deeply thankful to both John and our other benefactor for their generosity and partnership. As we open EVGR, we honor their contributions to the project and dedication to Stanford.”
Campus architect David Lenox led the building design of the new residential complex, echoing design elements found elsewhere on campus. An iconic 102-foot-tall entry tower at the intersection of Serra Street and Campus Drive serves as a key visual element of the project. It also anchors a pavilion with dining options, meeting rooms, and other spaces that will eventually be a gathering place for residents and the rest of the graduate student community.
“I’m delighted that, with the addition of EVGR, the university has significantly increased the residential capacity to offer housing to graduate students who wish to live on campus,” said Stacey Bent, vice provost for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs. “The many housing options on campus, including EVGR, provide Stanford graduate students with a wonderful opportunity for residential living and learning in a community of scholars.”
Amenities and community gathering places
Since the project was first announced in October 2015, R&DE has organized regular meetings with students and other campus stakeholders, seeking their input and incorporating their suggestions into the plans.
One of the most significant changes to result from this dialogue was shifting the entire EVGR complex south, to preserve more family courtyard housing on the north side of Escondido Village. R&DE also incorporated student input about apartment configurations and amenities and collaborated with the Graduate Life Office to create a home for students that supports their academic and personal interests.
“So much of what we learned from meeting with students is realized in these four buildings that are built with student well-being and community in mind—from wellness or exercise rooms on every floor to plentiful gathering spaces of varying sizes with many open to the entire graduate student community,” said Ken Hsu, assistant vice provost and dean of the Graduate Life Office. “We cannot wait to move safely past this time of sheltering in place and social distancing to fully take advantage of EVGR’s design and amenities to build thriving graduate student communities.”
EVGR will feature many of the amenities found in newly constructed apartment complexes, including laundry rooms, wellness rooms, kitchenettes, TV lounges, huddle rooms, and four-stream recycle/trash chute rooms on every residential floor. Each building will have spaces designed to foster interaction, such as community rooms, game rooms, and music practice rooms. There are also complex-wide amenities to meet students’ practical needs and encourage the intellectual curiosities of residents, including meeting rooms, a mother’s lactation room, a yoga and dance studio, a makerspace, a television lounge, and theater.
At the center of the community, R&DE will offer a pub with a brewery—that will eventually offer beer-making classes—and an outdoor biergarten. There will also be a marketplace, with options including grab-and-go meals and snacks, a teaching kitchen, and an R&DE Stanford Dining meal plan option.
Although COVID-19 guidelines restrict access to most community spaces, in the future, they will support the diverse needs and interests of the graduate student community.
“We designed EVGR to be more than just a place where people eat and sleep. While the current public health challenges require adjustments to how we socialize, as we emerge from the pandemic, we want EVGR to be a social center for the entire graduate student community,” said Mark Bonino, project executive in Stanford’s Department of Project Management. “This will be the first time living on campus for many of the residents, and the variety of amenities and social spaces are meant to create a welcoming environment and a great opportunity to create community for those living in EVGR and visitors.”
When EVGR was in the planning phase, no one could have predicted that it would open during a once-in-a-century pandemic. In response to the public health challenges, Everett worked with Bent and Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for student affairs, to reevaluate how the new complex, originally designed specifically for graduate students, could most effectively help the university welcome both graduate and undergraduate students to campus for the autumn quarter.
“We’re very fortunate that EVGR is coming online now because it gives us greater flexibility in how we provide student housing while maintaining appropriate physical distancing,” Everett said. “It was very important to the university that we continue to guarantee four years of on-campus housing for undergraduates, while fulfilling our commitments to graduate students. Using part of EVGR for that purpose during the upcoming academic year allows us to accomplish that goal.”
Building A in the EVGR complex will be home to approximately 700 undergraduate students, mostly in two-bedroom units where each has a private bathroom. The university plans to transition Building A to graduate student housing when public health conditions improve.
Ready for initial occupancy
Upon the completion of construction and certification of the project, Land, Buildings & Real Estate turned the building over to R&DE on July 31 to manage the arrival of the first cohort of residents and initial occupancy of the complex and daily operations.
R&DE has been working closely with the Graduate Life Office, Land, Buildings & Real Estate and other departments to plan for the graduate students (singles and couples) and undergraduates who are moving into EVGR this summer and fall. In light of the ongoing pandemic, R&DE is arranging student move-ins by appointment, limiting the number of students who arrive at any one time, so they can use the elevators and hallways while maintaining physical distancing.
“It’s thrilling to know that our residential community will be expanding and adding vibrancy to campus as a whole,” Brubaker-Cole said. “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the new residents and helping them to feel at home in their new surroundings.”