Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day!
In an ambitious step towards expanding housing options on campus, Stanford University announced Saturday, April 1, that it plans to turn Hoover Tower into a high-rise apartment building for faculty members.
The university plans to convert the 285-foot-tall structure into 586 units of housing, with a range of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom options. Hoover Institution Director Condoleezza Rice will take the penthouse unit, the university announced. In honor of the former secretary of state, the university plans to rename the building "Condi-minium Tower."
"This marks a momentous and impactful step towards realizing Stanford's holistic vision of providing a multifaceted spectrum of housing to serve our diverse stakeholder groups," Director of Strategic Multi-Platform Stakeholder Initiatives Everett Cross said.
Stanford has been in yearslong negotiations with Santa Clara County over increasing the amount of housing that the university provides for its faculty and staff. County officials argue that the university must do more to avoid exacerbating the regional housing crisis by creating additional residences for its employees.
Originally dedicated in 1941 and named after former U.S. President Herbert Hoover, the tower has long stood as a symbol of Stanford University. Parts of the building, including the Lou Henry Hoover Observation Deck and Carillion and ground-floor exhibition galleries, are open for public tours. The building also houses university offices and portions of the university's archives, which are closed to the public.
In a statement, the university said that Stanford would retain the "historically significant aspects" of the tower while also transitioning the structure into high-density housing.
"The university is committed to maintaining the most important aspects of Hoover Tower, including the external facade," Cross said.
The university also plans to add a number of amenities for residents, including the George Shultz Laundry Facility, Henry A. Kissinger Game Room and Jim Mattis Dining Commons.
County officials appeared skeptical of Stanford's plans. At an impromptu Saturday press conference, Santa Clara County Supervisor Susanna Mahoney said that while the county is committed to expanding housing, Stanford's plans weren't what they envisioned.
"Yes, we want them to build housing," Mahoney said. "No, we don't want them to gut a nearly century-old structure that is a regional landmark of substantial cultural significance."
Local historic preservationists also came out strongly against the proposal. Tabitha Graves, president of Palo Altans for Sensible Development and Maintaining the Status Quo, called the conversion plan "the destruction of everything that we hold dear."
"Turning Hoover Tower into housing would usher in the end of Palo Alto as we know it," Graves said. "This would represent the worst action that Stanford has ever taken."
Stanford defended its plans, arguing that it was merely following the directions given to it by the county government. According to Cross, the university wanted to meet two goals simultaneously: building a substantial amount of housing and creating greater community access to the university's historic assets.
Not only will the new residents live in an iconic structure, they will be expected to participate in the Hoover docent program by housing part of the historical archives in their apartments and showing the documents and artifacts to members of the public who show up at their doorsteps.
"We have heard the community's calls for Stanford to be more responsive and open to the public," Cross said. "What could be a better way to make Stanford more accessible than to invite nearly 600 employees and their families to make their homes in one of our most treasured landmarks?"