Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Bakewell and Brown, Architects (firm); Sasaki, Walker Associates (SWA), Incorporated, Landscape Architects (firm); John Bakewell Jr. (architect); Arthur Brown Jr. (architect); Hideo Sasaki (landscape architect/urban planner); Peter J. Walker (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1922-1923

3 stories

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655 Escondido Road
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

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This dormitory, named for Stanford University's second President,John Casper Branner (1850-1922), who served only two years 1913-1915, was designed along the lines of the Quad's monastic courtyard plan, in this case, in an updated Spanish Colonial Revival stylistic vocabulary. Designed by Bakewell and Brown, Stanford's campus architect from the 1910s until the firm dissolved in 1928, it was part of a larger dormitory development with the nearby Toyon Hall, located just to the northwest. It accommodated 132 freshman students in 1924.

Building History

Opened in 1923 along with nearby Toyon Hall, Branner Hall has housed generations of Stanford freshmen. The building cost $480,000 in 1922-1923, its expense covered by Stanford stadium football receipts. It opened in 01/1924. The dormitory, built just after the end of World War I, honored John Branner, who served as the first chair of Stanford's Department of Geology and Mining. Another facility on campus, the Branner Earth Sciences Library, was also named for him.

In 2017, Branner Hall was a co-ed dormitory by corridor (men and women live on the same floor), and was composed largely of two-room, double-occupancy units. It served about 125 undergraduate students from the junior and senior classes. At this time, its common spaces included a lounge, outdoor courtyard seating area, seminar room, library, and computer room. The Branner Dining Room had a notable, open-truss ceiling that added to the rooms airy atmosphere.

Building Notes

An anomaly among elite, private universities, Stanford admitted women from its beginning in 1892. According to a Stanford web site on Branner Hall, "Branner has also served as an all-women’s residence before becoming co-ed. The first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Conner, lived in Branner Hall during her freshman year at Stanford." (See Stanford University, "About Branner Hall," accessed 10/03/2017.)


Branner Hall underwent a 9-month renovation costing about $20.2 million in 2002-2003. According to the Stanford Report in 07/2003, Branner Hall "...has been outfitted with new plumbing and electrical wiring, a rebuilt roof, a seismic upgrade and a new kitchen." This renovation coinciding with campus efforts to renovate the Meyer-Buck House, and research for the two projects dovetailed with each other. "With its gleaming woodwork, green velvet drapes, polished red tile floors and buttery walls, Branner Hall is now shades of the Bakewell & Brown-designed Meyer-Buck House, a former estate recently renovated as a campus residence. (Literally, since designers working separately on Branner and the Meyer-Buck House discovered that their research on 1920s-era paint colors had yielded exactly the same shade of cream.)" (See Barbara Palmer, Stanford Report., "Branner Hall glows again after $20 million restoration," published 07/23/2003, accessed 10/03/2017. This renovation was completed as part of a larger dormitory restoration effort c. 2000 that included Lagunita Court, Wilbur Hall, Florence-Moore Hall, Stern Hall, Escondido Village, neighboring Toyon Hall, and numerous row houses

SWA Group worked on the landscaping surrounding Branner Hall c. 2010. According to the web site,, "The SWA design for Stanford Branner Hall integrates four historic magnolia trees on site to create a new entry courtyard of precast pavers and cast-in-place concrete seatwall. In addition, a renovated interior courtyard includes the new fountain and seating area with new plantings of Salvia leucantha." (See Stephen Kelly, editor, "Reclaiming the Visions of Leland Stanford and Frederick Law Olmsted,", accessed 10/03/2017.)

SWA said of its own work at Branner Hall: "The renovation design creates two significant courtyards: an entrance courtyard flanked with four-decades-old magnolia trees shading a seating area and an interior courtyard with a fountain, creating space for students to gather. In addition, a barbecue area was recreated in a space that once held a rose garden. The design addresses critical Stanford site issues such as providing bike parking facilities, reconfiguring existing vehicular parking, and renovating the courtyards and peripheral landscape spaces." (See SWA Group, "Stanford Branner Hall," accessed 10/03/2017.)

PCAD id: 21499