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Stanford’s Roble Gymnasium

The Roble Gymnasium Rehabilitation Project is the winner of a 2018 Preservation Design Award. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. In making their decision, the jury stated: “This is a gorgeous building and an impressive project!”

The Award will be presented on Friday, October 19, 2018 at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets and sponsorship options are available at

About this project

Stanford’s Roble Gymnasium was designed by prominent San Francisco architects Bakewell and Brown in 1931 and served as the original women’s gym, built in response to an increasing interest in women’s health at Stanford and nationally. The building was used as the women’s gym until the 1970s when Stanford became fully coeducational. Since the late 80’s, it has been home to the department of Theater and Performance Studies.

The building is in the Spanish Eclectic style characteristic of Bakewell and Brown’s work at Stanford and features a domed entrance tower, red tile roof, and large arched window openings. Square in plan, the buildings’s four rectangular wings define a central courtyard and originally housed the gymnasium to the east, dance and rehearsal studios to the west, health offices and administration to the south, and dressing and shower room wing to the north. The new program takes advantage of the volume of the gymnasium for a flexible theater, and the industrial character of the dressing rooms for the Art Gym.

The site’s former landscape was designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Original London Plane trees still exist in front of the building. The new landscape plan takes advantage of these original trees, transforms the original entry drive into a pedestrian zone, and restores the idyllic central courtyard with a refurbished fountain and planting palette reminiscent of the Olmsted design.

The project was a significant remodel, and included all new building systems, full fire sprinkler system, an extensive seismic retrofit, and accessibility upgrades including a restroom reconfiguration and new exterior ramps.

The building underwent programmatic alterations, transforming it into a flexible theater. A control booth and performer support spaces were constructed within the gym, windows were blacked out, a pipe grid was installed, and all new theatrical production systems were provided. Work was performed so that if reversed in the future, original features will be present. The project also added an “Art Gym,” where non-art major student can explore multi-media art and performance in a flexible space.

The exterior plaster facade was carefully rehabilitated, and incompatible features were removed and replaced with historically compatible ones. Existing day tile roofs were removed, new membranes installed on the seismically-reinforced roof decks, then reinstalled in the same roof plane whence they came. Existing remnants of the original landscape plan were preserved, and the new planting palette recalled the original Olmsted plan.

About CAW Architects

We design new buildings on distinguished campuses, in vibrant downtowns and stately neighborhoods. We give old buildings a new lease on life, infusing them with energy and economic vitality whether they are historic buildings in need of careful rehabilitation or existing buildings awaiting fresh uses.

CAW Architects understands that each project is unique and must resolve design, function, and budget. We guide our clients through the complicated process of design, entitlement, and construction. Clarity of plan, sustainable materials, abundant daylight, energy efficiency, and thoughtful response to site and climate are the tools we use to craft our projects.

Our many repeat clients are a proud testament to our success in creating superbly designed projects that respond to our clients’ needs.


Project Team

Architect of Record
Christopher Wasney, AIA
CAW Architects, Inc.

Mark Bonino
Stanford University

Structural Engineer
Doug Hohbach
Hohbach-Lewin Inc.

Landscape Architect
Stephen Wheeler
Stephen Wheeler Landscape Architects

Civil Engineer
Amy Taylor

Electrical Engineer
Kurt Chacon
Redwood City Electric

Plumbing Engineer
Bill Suttles

General Contractor
Tim Stitt
Vance Brown Builders

Fire Protecton
Chris Amos
Broughton Fire Protection

Theater Consultant
Heather McAvoy
Landry & Bogan

Acoustical & AV Consultant
Joel Lewitz
Rosen, Goldberg, Der & Lewitz

Mechanical Engineer
Gil Gong
Silicon Valley Mechanical