- Management Partner: Timothy Hartung
- Project Architect/Manager: Emily Kirkland
- Team Members: Margarita Calero, Charles Wolf, Haitao Zhou, Ann Wright
- Mechanical, Plumbing Engineering: Taylor Engineering
- Food Service: RAS Design Group
- Signage: Kate Keating Associates
- Hardware: Glezen Fisher Group
- FFE: RMA Studio
- Fire Code: The Fire Consultants
- Spec: Construction Specifications Inc.
- Client: Stanford University
- City: Stanford
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. Designed by Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects, Denning House is intended to be a gathering place for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, a place for students to share ideas and to develop as leaders. The new building offers a variety of meeting, classroom and dining spaces, formal and informal, large and small, both inside and outside, suitable for individual study, small gatherings or large events.
The site, at the edge of Lake Lagunita, is an unusual one: formerly a parking lot, it is surrounded by a densely forested landscape of California oaks. The building’s design takes advantage of this site condition by inverting the program, placing the large public spaces including dining, classroom, and lounges on the second floor, where they take full advantage of the spectacular view. These surmount the administration, conference, and back-of-house facilities on the ground floor.
One approaches the 18,000 square foot building via a gently curving, sloping boardwalk, which gradually leaves the ground and delivers one to a “front porch” and lobby space. From here, the sequence is further attenuated with a gracious stair, which one slowly ascends, gradually revealing the expansive view, until now totally hidden. A gently sloping ceiling rises above the stair, opening the facade towards the lake, creating a continuous flowing space that moves from intimate to grand.
The major spaces here are arrayed along a shallow arcing façade, giving onto a continuous deck along the lake. Through these devices, and the use of Douglas fir wood structure and surfaces throughout the interior and cypress cladding on the exterior, the building feels like a treehouse, far removed from the campus around it, hidden in the trees but looking out at the iconic California landscape beyond.