AKA: Stanford University, Cantor, Iris and B. Gerald, Center for Visual Arts, Stanford, CA; Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Structure Type: built works - exhibition buildings - museums; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Percy and Hamilton, Architects (firm); Polshek and Partners, Architects (firm); Ransome, Ernest Leslie, Engineer (firm); Frederick Foss Hamilton (architect); George Washington Percy (architect); James Stewart Polshek (architect); Ernest Leslie Ransome (civil engineer)

Dates: constructed 1893

total floor area: 130,000 sq. ft.

328 Lomita Drive
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5060

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Lomita Drive and Museum Way (off Palm Drive);

Building History

Pioneering engineer, Ernest Ransome (1844-1917), designed the structure of the Art Museum, an early example of reinforced concrete construction in the US, while San Francisco architects Percy and Hamilton produced its overall plan and stylistic design. The museum was completed the year Leland Stanford, Sr., (1824-1893) one of the "Big Four" of the Union Pacific Railroad, passed away.

As early as 1910, architects in the Bay Area viewed the Stanford Museum as a landmark of architectural engineering, as the first usage of reinforced concrete construction in the country. Architect John Cotter Pelton wrote in an issue of the Architect and Engineer of California: "In the development of concrete construction and its reinforcement with steel, little notice seems to be taken of the fact that the earliest examsples of this type of construction on the Pacific Coast are to be found in the Stanford Museum at Palo Alto--and 'lest we forget,' let us bestow this honor where it is due, to Mr. G.W. Percy and Mr. Ernest Ransome, again of San Francisco, who together worked out this problem and put it into execution in a number of important works, and blazed the trail which is today a highway for we of lesser courage, and to face the skepticism and criticism which they endured took all there was in a man, and here it is proper to note that the museum building stood like a rock in the midst of a field of ruins--built by the skeptics--the Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco was in its destruction a greater task than in its building and took a longer time." (See John Cotter Pelton, "Out of the West," Architect and Engineer of California, vol. XIX, no. 3, 01/1910, p. 47.)

Building Notes

Stanford art history professor and Rodin scholar Albert Elsen (1927-1995) obtained a collection of Rodin bronzes that were displayed in the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden at the Art Museum and across the campus in the mid-1980s. The Cantor Sculpture Garden opened in 1985.

Tel:: (650) 723-4177 (2004);


The Art Museum was heavily damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, and was renovated in the 1990s by James Stewart Polshek Partners, Architects; this renovation and expansion was completed in 1998.

PCAD id: 1870

Knoerle, Jane, "The Stanford Museum Reborn", Almanac, 1/20/1999. Pelton, John Cotter, "Out of the West", Architect and Engineer of California, XIX: 3, 47-48, 1910-01. "Museum News", Art in America, 1995-10. "Stanford Renovation Finally Underway", Artweek, 12/1995. Joncas, Richard, Building on the Past, 1999. Nicklin, Julie L., "Stanford Museum Struggles to Reinvent Itself 5 Years After Devastating Quake", Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/1994. "Stanford Art Museum Renovation Begins", Country Almanac, 11/1/1995. "Sneak Preview", Hooked on Construction, 1999. "Art Museum and Rotunda, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif", Inland Architect and News Record, 24: 1, 8, 1894-08. "Art Museum and Rotunda", Inland Architect and News Record, 23: 6, plate following p. 66, 1894-07. "U.S. Architectural Landmarks in Concrete", Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 46: 4, 68, 1966-10. Osborne, Carol M., Turner, Paul Venable, Museum Builders in the West, 1986. Rappaport, Nina, "Stanford Builds", Oculus, 3/1999. Simon, Mark, "Construction Starts at Stanford Museum", San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8/1995. Baker, Kenneth, "Bay Area Art: Where Are We Now?", San Francisco Chronicle, 11/8/1995. Hamlin, Jesse, "Something Old, Something New", San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10/1999. Baker, Kenneth, "Artfully Done", San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22/1999. Whiting, Sam, "Proud Parent of Stanford Museum's New Wing", San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10/1999. Bonetti, David, "A Hundred Years Young", San Francisco Examiner, 1/1999. Sardar, Zahid, "Stanford's New Muse", San Francisco Examiner Magazine, 2/14/1999. Stein, David, "Museum's Rebirth: Rebuilding ready to go", Stanford Daily, 10/27/1995. Baker, Kenneth, "Stanford's Ploy", Town and Country, 1/1999.