When Stanford’s original main quad was built 125 years ago, it was with the intent of bringing faculty together in its outdoor spaces and walkways. From its inception, the university was a place where faculty were encouraged to collaborate across disciplines.
Nothing has done more to extend that original idea than the James H. Clark Center, which opened in 2003 at the intersection of the Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Humanities and Sciences. It was built as a home for Stanford Bio-X, which brings faculty together from across disciplines to solve problems in the life sciences.
As people around the world began seeing the kind of science that came out of the interdisciplinary mix in the Clark Center, that style building has begun springing up world-wide. In fact, in 2014, the National Academies specifically pointed to the Clark Center as one way of encouraging what they call “convergence” science.
Stanford has since constructed another building to encourage collaboration (the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building) and just broke ground on a research facility to house the two newest interdisciplinary institutes: Stanford ChEM-H and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.
In my story about this building trend, Ann Arvin, MD, Stanford's dean of research and vice provost, comments, “This building is a physical manifestation of Stanford’s commitment to breaking down barriers between disciplines.”
Arvin went on to say that she thinks disciplines still need to be strong, but that the really innovative research is taking place at the intersections between those disciplines. The new research facility will be across the street from the Clark Center, perfectly poised to continue bringing disciplines together around problems in neuroscience and human health.
Previously: They said "Yes": The attitude that defines Stanford Bio-X and Stanford's Clark Center, home to Bio-X, turns 10
Image from Stanford Office of Development