At Stanford University’s School of Medicine (Palo Alto, Calif.), clinical trial researchers were scattered across multiple buildings, some of which were off campus. The opening of the new Jill and John Freidenrich Center for Translational Research in October 2012 brings researchers and clinicians together under one roof, a short walk from Stanford Hospital and Clinics, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and other Stanford research facilities.

Designed by WRNS Studio (San Francisco), the three-story, 30,690-square-foot building accommodates 250 staff members for three organizations: the Clinical Trials Research Unit, which supports many of the university’s studies that involve human subjects; the Cancer Clinical Trials Office, which provides services to investigators conducting clinical trials at the university’s Cancer Institute; and Spectrum, the Center for Clinical and Translational Education and Research, a Stanford independent research center.

In order to harmonize with the rest of the School of Medicine, the design is a contemporary reinterpretation of the campus vernacular, drawing on stone, terra cotta, glass, and wood and incorporating generous roof eaves and deep arcades.

A terra cotta panel wall and a stone-covered arcade frame the walkway from the street to the main entry courtyard, where a water feature creates gentle white noise. The ground floor, which houses patient clinic spaces, offers views to landscaped courtyards and a large conference room looks out on the olive tree planted in the courtyard. The second floor outdoor dining terrace overlooks the main space below.

The upper floors provide office and research space for the facility’s three organizations. To create flexibility for reconfiguration as each new clinical trial begins, the design team placed private offices to the building’s east and west edges, leaving room for an open floor plan with plenty of natural daylight.

Kyle Elliott is a partner at WRNS Studio in San Francisco.