Stanford Escondido Village

Palo Alto, California

  • Architect: WRT Solomon ETC and MBT Architecture
  • Developer: Stanford University
  1 / 8 

Credit: WRT Solomon ETC

An early investment in a hybrid structural solution provides enhanced performance that reduces life-cycle costs.

To meet long-term needs for graduate student and family housing, Stanford University elevated its performance goals for this 270-unit residential project in order to minimize damage resulting from a large earthquake. In lieu of adhering to existing building codes, which strive for life safety but make no attempt to limit building damage, the university opted for performance-based design to preserve the project’s usability after a major seismic event.

To achieve this higher threshold, we designed a hybrid system of steel frames and wood floors. This innovative structural solution marries the low weight of wood diaphragms with the strength of steel-braced frames, which are equipped with vertical friction dampers at the column bases. Because these vertical-slip friction connections allow the frames to rock and dissipate seismic energy, the braced frames remain elastic during major shocks. The friction dampers protect the buildings, thus limiting overall damage, even during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

While owners typically find such technologically advanced solutions too cost prohibitive, a full cost-benefit analysis comparing the costs of friction dampers to the building’s entire life-cycle costs confirmed the wisdom of this upfront investment.





Executed as Tipping Mar