Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning repurposes a Stanford landmark
In late fall 2016, a historic building off the Stanford Oval that’s stood vacant for nearly three decades will reopen as an interdisciplinary center for undergraduate science learning.
The Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning is an extensive remodeling of Stanford’s original chemistry building, completed in 1902 by Jane Lathrop Stanford and vacant since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Spatially and conceptually, the Sapp Center will anchor Stanford’s future Biology Chemistry Quad northwest of the Main Quad. Its adaptive classrooms are designed for the collaboration across disciplines that is a Stanford hallmark.
The center is named after Shari and Rick Sapp, ’78, whose generous gift, along with support from other Stanford friends and alumni, made the new center possible. Its remodeling takes advantage of the tall windows and copious natural light that made Old Chem architecturally ahead of its time in 1902.
Added within the old building’s frame are meeting rooms and common study areas with scenic views of the Oval in addition to labs, a library and the 300-seat Oberndorf Family Auditorium that was created by excavating the ground floor.
A meeting room on the second floor commemorates a love story.
Glenn White, MA ’36, and Kathleen “Kay” Thorburn, ’35, MA ’36, met as grad students in Old Chem’s Room 10. They got acquainted over tea brewed on a Bunsen burner. When White finally proposed, he recalled decades later, “it was spontaneous – spontaneous combustion.”
The couple raised three children and lived happily together until Kay’s death in 1997. In 2014, White, then 100, made a gift toward renovation of the building where they met. The Kay and Glenn White Meeting Room occupies roughly the space where Room 10 once stood.
Learn how Jane Stanford built Old Chem after her husband Leland Stanford’s death.
Meet more of the interesting people who walked Old Chem’s halls.