Case Study: Highlands Hall

Stanford University, Custom Showers Provide Long-Lasting Solutions for Stanford University Students

Stanford University is a world-renowned institution with a rich architectural legacy. Highlands Hall, its latest residential housing project, follows this tradition by providing cutting-edge accommodations for business school graduate students; the four story, state-of-the-art facility contains three courtyards, 200 living units, and flows seamlessly with the campus’ Spanish influences.

Highlands Hall was specifically designed to promote community. Each residential unit houses two first-year MBA students to encourage bonding and social skills imperative for their long-term career success.

Durability was a top priority, as both students will be using the shower and each unit will also double as a hotel room during the slow summer semester. Facilities — especially the bathrooms — needed to withstand rigorous wear-and-tear.

Plumbing designer/contractor W.L. Hickey turned to Bestbath for a custom shower solution that met Stanford’s rigorous standards.

“Steinberg Group and the design/build team developed products and materials that would give Stanford a 20 to 30 year property,” said Ed Hickey, president of W.L. Hickey. “Bathrooms are notoriously difficult. Students constantly use the showers, so our goal was to ensure we would not need to come back for repairs or replacements.”

Stanford’s brand is built to last. The university is known for longevity and this philosophy is infused into every stone. As an independently owned school, it is not beholden to the lowest common bid, and construction of campus property has always veered sharply ahead of the curve. One criterion for evaluating building quality is the university’s rigorous life cycle assessment (LCA) process, a technique to assess the environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life. In Stanford’s case, the LCA helps determine the monetary value of Highlands Hall’s bathrooms.

Bestbath has serviced campuses across the country including MIT, UCLA, UC Berkley, UC Santa Barbara, Vanderbuilt, Rutgers, and Wyoming Tech. Each uses a unique formula to determine their needs.

“One reason W.L. Hickey approached us was that Stanford didn’t want to use traditional tile and grout,” said Lee Cook, West Coast regional sales manager for Bestbath. “It’s very hard to clean, prone to leaking, and difficult to maintain long-term. We brought in a custom composite material that suited this need and measured up to the LCA, which was not an easy task. When universities build their own student housing, they have a goal that the building needs to last 7 years, 10 years, or longer depending on their needs; Stanford likes to take that idea further than most.”

W.L. Hickey is a fourth-generation, Silicon Valley based plumbing contract company with a 112-year history. President Hickey has collaborated with Bestbath for 15 years, relying on its 30-year product warranty (a rare trait amongst manufacturers) and proactive attitude to get the job done.

“Our design and dimensional criteria were very specific,” said Hickey. “It was clear that Stanford was investing in this project for the long-term; the rough plumbing, copper pipe, and brazed welding are all high-end products that are built to last. In my experience, when you go to Bestbath, they collaborate with their customer, understand their needs, and create a customized solution that has a positive end result.”

Stanford MBA applications reached all-time highs in 2017 and are expected to break records again for 2018. Highlands Hall is expected to be completed in Fall, 2017, just in time to handle the influx of new students.

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