The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, formerly the Stanford University Museum of Art, was the first monumental concrete structure of its kind. Commissioned by Mrs. Leland Stanford, engineered by Ernest Ransome, and completed in 1894, upon its opening the Stanford Museum was the largest privately-held museum building in the world. The neoclassical exterior was modeled after the national archaeological museum in Athens; its crowning architectural feature is the foyer skylight, the first reinforced concrete structure of its type ever built.
The newly-named Cantor Center opened its doors to the public in 1999 after a seismic upgrade and the addition of a new wing. Subsequently, ARG Conservation Services was retained by Stanford University in a design/build capacity to preserve and make watertight the foyer skylight, which had leaked for many years and rendered the foyer space essentially unusable as an exhibition area. Preserving the character of this unique skylight and maintaining the aesthetic of the foyer was of paramount importance; after exploring various approaches for waterproofing the chronically leaky skylight, the chosen scheme involved strengthening the original skylight framework with modern composites and installing a new glazed skylight over the entire historic assembly. This approach ensured both the retention of historic fabric and water-tight functionality. ARG Conservation Services planned and managed the construction phase such that the Cantor Center remained open during construction, with minimal impact to museum operations.