The Contemplation Center
Windhover is a contemplative center located in the heart of campus. The building is accessible by ID card to Stanford students, staff and faculty. Art by Nathan Oliveira inspired both its name and its construction. Windhover, an elegant and natural space, was designed by Aidlin Darling Design, a San Francisco architectural firm. Uniting the artist’s aesthetic and the artworks themselves, the building reflects a keen understanding of the mission. Its simple lines communicate a design for meditative thought.
The team at Aidlin Darling felt that even the approach to the building should contribute to the contemplative process. Approaching the space, one is guided alongside the building, with only glimpses of the interior revealed. As visitors move forward, elements of nature surround them. At the rear of the building, a reflection pond offers light and expansive windows afford a range of views of the art. Filtered light floods the site, creating a beautifully balanced atmosphere. Corten steel, rammed earth walls, stone, glass, and water are brought together to deepen the natural feeling, immersing visitors in a calm state.
A stone path. A row of ginkgo trees. A bamboo grove. The approaches to Windhover are the work of landscape designer Andrea Cochran of Palo Alto. Cochran's vision enhances the harmony of the site's interior. She has retained existing elements from the campus's earliest days, rooting the contemplative experience in history. An old oak grove embraces the courtyard at the southern edge of the building. Adjacent to the grove, a series of ledges and slabs of granite, as well as a labyrinth, invite thoughtful reflection.
Modeled on the 12th-century stone labyrinth located inside Chartres Cathedral in France, Windhover’s labyrinth is installed outdoors adjacent to the building. It offers a looping, spiraling walking path culminating at a rosette at its center. The rhythm and simplicity of following a clear path can quiet the mind, restore balance, encourage prayer, and facilitate meditation, insight, and celebration.