The McMurtry Building unites Stanford University’s Departments of Art and Art History—the former dedicated to art production and the latter to art study. The 96,000 sf building accommodates a broad range of disciplines: Art History, Studio Arts, Photography, Media Arts, and Digital Design. The design takes the form of two interlocking sculptural strands—one dedicated to the Department of Art and the other to the Department of Art History. The Art History strand embraces the university's building heritage with a cement plaster exterior typical of historic buildings across campus. The Art strand is differentiated by a patinated zinc finish, an industrial aesthetic in keeping with the making of art.
The Art and Architecture Library, a transparent floating glass box, is literally and metaphorically positioned between the two strands. Every aspect of the building, which includes open–air interior courtyards at all levels, has been designed to maximize visibility, interaction, and chance encounters. Transparent studio and classroom walls allow abundant natural light into the interiors, and create encounters with art–making throughout. The first–level courtyard connects the lobby, exhibition space, sculpture studio, and a 120–seat flexible presentation space, which can be configured as a classroom, a performance venue, a multimedia gallery, or an outdoor performance space that opens to a green lawn. At the second level, the library’s terrace provides a venue for study, performances, or social events. A third–level sky court is designed as a series of outdoor rooms that serve as breakout and art practice spaces for studios and faculty offices. The building’s lower level houses darkrooms, media computer art labs, and film editing rooms.