Stanford University was
devised as a land grant university under the 1862 Morill Act. In 1888 Leland Stanford
asked Olmsted, who by this time had designed many campuses around the country, to design
the campus for his new university.
Olmsted wanted to create a compact campus. He envisioned a campus with few planted
areas. He saw the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican as inspiration for the design,
feeling that it would emphasize the architecture of the inner quadrangle.
He was also concerned with the idea of community. He reserved the areas around the three
main quadrangles for residential areas. This way he felt that all the residents would
benefit from the proximity to the grand buildings of education.