The September opening of the Broad—Los Angeles’s newest museum, enshrining the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad—has predictably eclipsed the less splashy buildings recently authored by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Roughly 300 miles north of downtown L.A., DS+R’s McMurtry Building for the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University has quietly debuted for the fall semester. The 100,000-square-foot facility brings together under one roof the institution’s wide-ranging undergraduate and graduate programs in art practice, design, art history, film, and film studies.
View of the atrium under the central oculus.
Technically speaking, those programs are gathered under several roofs. The building’s design, spearheaded by principal-in-charge Charles Renfro (with Boora Architects of Portland, Oregon, serving as architect of record), comprises two individually articulated, interwoven strands. The “making” strand, as Renfro calls it, contains art studios, while the “study” strand houses classrooms. Locked together in respectful counterpoise, the two strands bracket a third volume, the art and architecture library. The building’s communal spaces, including a rooftop garden, accommodate and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and conversation.
The McMurtry Building's roof garden.