With “The Hub”, Stanford’s research park bets on the return of the workforce | News

Stanford Research Park’s newest development is unlike any other.

Known as The Hub, it is a community hub, bike shop, cafe and a vote of confidence in the future of business travel.

He is surrounded by automakers but avoids car trips.

And while it’s open to the wider community, its main target is the approximately 8,000 employees who work within walking distance. This includes those who have been at the Research Park throughout the pandemic as well as those who are just beginning to return to the office after two years of working remotely.

The building at 3215 Porter Drive began quietly operating in mid-April and hosted its official grand opening on Wednesday. It invites visitors to lunch at the new Coupa Cafe, rent or repair a bike at Mike’s Bikes on the ground floor, or plan their car-free trip home with SRP Go, the park’s transportation management association. research which launched about five years ago and has rapidly adjusted its menu of services over the past two years to accommodate changing commuting habits.

For Stanford University, owner of the research park, the new center also represents a kind of experimentation in a field accustomed to innovation. Tiffany Griego, chief executive of Stanford Research Park, said The Hub is Stanford’s first community building in the park, which has been around for more than 70 years and whose business roster includes companies like Tesla, HP, Lockheed Martin , SAP, VMware, Varian, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and many more.

In addition to food and bike service, The Hub includes a lecture hall that will host events and classes featuring Stanford University professors and authors, with a focus on topics such as transportation and durability. The idea, Griego said, is to both expand the Research Park’s amenities menu and “bring more Stanford culture and Stanford connection to Research Park employees.”

“It’s definitely a vote of confidence in the research park and the talent that works here,” Griego said. “We want to make it easier for them to access breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the services within walking distance nearby to help them do their jobs better.”

Above all, Stanford wants them to have plenty of options to move around. The hub was championed by Jamie Jarvis, director of programs at Stanford Research Park and head of the park’s transportation demand management association, SRP Go. The transportation program is now headquartered at the Hub.

Jarvis said the past two years have been a time of rapid adjustment for the transportation association. Some of its core services, including its shuttles and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus pass subsidies, have remained in place throughout the pandemic to serve employees classified as “essential workers” in companies like Lockheed Martin, Communications and Power Industries (CPI), and VMware and to help healthcare workers get to the VA Palo Alto healthcare system.

Other services, including carpooling and carpooling programs, have been suspended during the pandemic as social distancing has become the norm. They were relaunched last spring, but scaled back again in the fall, with the omicron variant creating a surge in cases.

The organization has also shifted its tone to accommodate workers’ health preferences and concerns during the pandemic. In the past, for example, SRP Go offered subsidies to employees who carpooled to work four times a week. Now they only have to commute twice a week.

“For a while we used to wring our arms around, ‘Let’s get you in this vanpool.’ Now it’s like, ‘If you want to be in this vanpool, we give it to you,'” Jarvis said in an interview. “Have you heard of meeting people where they are? This is what we do.

Demand for SRP Go’s services has increased as more and more workers have returned to the office. While the research park has around 30,000 employees, the companies around The Hub employ around 8,000 people. About half of them now come to work regularly, although their hours tend to be more flexible than before.

Stanford officials believe that demand for the services offered by The Hub will only increase. As the name suggests, many companies in the park are committed to research and have considerable lab space, which makes working from home less viable than it would be in traditional office spaces. Tesla, for example, is back at the research park in full force, Jarvis said. Some of the park’s existing spaces are being converted from offices to lab spaces, she said. And work has recently been completed on a new two-storey commercial building immediately adjacent to the Hub, which is expected to be occupied shortly.

Although the building includes a modest parking lot, it is intentionally “underparked”, making it less than ideal for events that attract residents from outside the park for community events (unless, of course , whether they are cycling). It has ample bicycle parking and a bus stop just outside its main driveway. In the parking lot, users can rent lockers that rely on Bluetooth technology to unlock when an employee returns to collect their items.

Ironically, many users of The Hub are likely to be employees of automakers. Tesla continues to maintain a major presence in the research park. Although it moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas last year, it actually expanded its research space to Palo Alto when it took over a campus formerly leased by HP. Woven Planet, a subsidiary of Toyota specializing in autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles, is located nearby. The same goes for Ford Greenfield Labs, a research center that helped Ford develop its E-Transit vans and Ford-150 Lightning Truck.

Nancy Coupal, owner of Coupa Cafe, said she was pleased with the initial response to the cafe, which opened on April 13. Although she was initially concerned about the impact of remote work on business, she was reassured by the request. Coupa is currently open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., although Coupal said it expects numbers to rise as more workers return to the research park and the building next door is completed. She’s also applying for a liquor license and hopes to offer visitors beer and wine (as well as another incentive not to drive) in the not-too-distant future.

Coupal attended the grants opening on Wednesday at the Hub, where more than 75 visitors from nearby companies mingled with Stanford officials and the development team over coffee and snacks. She also joined Jarvis in cutting a large red ribbon, officially opening the new amenity space.

Stanford has been planning The Hub since 2016, Griego said. Even though the pandemic has upended travel habits, she said Stanford hopes people will come back and is ready to welcome them back.

“We are ready to resume all the different programs that we offer,” Griego said. “We want to welcome everyone to the Research Park with this exciting new opportunity to rebuild the community and get back to business.”

Michael A. Bynum