Arts Initiative vies for old GSB buildings

Jan. 31, 2011, 3:04 a.m.

As the completion of the future home of the Stanford Graduate School of Business looms, anticipation is heating up among groups vying to take over the school’s current buildings. However, the biggest change that this transition might bring to campus is the creation of a new arts hub.

Arts Initiative vies for old GSB buildings
The Graduate School of Business will vacate its current home, GSB South (above), in the coming months and move fully into the Knight Management Center. The Stanford Arts Initiative is a leading contender to take over the building, and plans to integrate it into a new arts district. (MEHMET INONU/Staff Photographer)

The new Knight Management Center opened the doors to four of its eight buildings in January and will open the rest in March. The GSB’s move will create a domino effect across campus, as other departments and offices shuffle into the newly vacated spaces.

Decisions about which departments will gain access to the school’s current buildings—namely, GSB South and the Littlefield Management Center—remain in the application process.

“The decision will be made based on programmatic priorities, the best fit and most efficient use of the space,” wrote Laura Goldstein, a building project manager, in an e-mail to The Daily. “As it is an important and prominent location, we hope to create a vibrant environment that connects well to the surrounding area of campus.”

The development of an arts district, which has been under consideration for several years and was approved by the Office of the President, is one possibility. The Cantor Arts Center, the new Bing Concert Hall and offices in the current GSB buildings would serve as cornerstones for the district.

“In the same way we have an engineering quad on campus, we’ll have an area where the arts are concentrated,” said Bryan Wolf, co-director of the Stanford Arts Initiative.

According to Wolf, the district would be an area “saturated with arts activity.”

“It faces out to Palo Alto so it will be the part that greets the community, an announcement to the world about the importance of [the] arts and their centrality to the vision of Stanford education,” he added.

The Arts Initiative, established in Oct. 2006, hopes that the district will enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary work and make the arts more accessible for the student body and the Palo Alto community. The goal is that the district will encourage synergies between classroom work and extracurricular arts activity.

The tentative plan includes a new classroom building next to the Cantor Arts Center, which would allow classes to better integrate the art displayed there with curricula. The initiative intends to use space in the GSB’s current Littlefield buildings for administrative offices, offices for fellows and multipurpose classrooms.

Arts walks—outdoor spaces with sculpture and performance art leading viewers from the Bing Concert Hall to Cantor and around the rest of the district—would also provide students a chance to design outdoor projects and enhance art around campus.

Matthew Tiews, executive director of arts programs, said that the new buildings would make a “major statement about the arts” and could mobilize arts programming at Stanford.

“It will raise the profile of arts on campus, so we’re very, very excited about that,” Tiews said.

The full timeline for the arts district stretches over the next 10 to 15 years, and the program’s application for the current GSB buildings is not yet confirmed. The decision-making timeline with regards to allocation of the GSB’s current space is still indeterminate.

However, Wolf is confident that the administration had integrated the idea of an arts district into its overall goals for the University.

“Because the space is so valuable, I’m sure many groups will want it, but it seems fairly clear we’ll be moving in,” Wolf said. “The University has been very committed to maintaining the strength of the Arts Department and expanding it in tough budgetary times.”

Tiews said the University is becoming a model for expanding art imitative throughout campus. He mentioned that Harvard, which has been considering a similar district on its campus, recently came to Stanford for advice and ideas.

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