John Arrillaga, longtime Stanford philanthropist and Silicon Valley real estate developer, dies at 84

John Arrillaga, 60, a former scholar who became one of Silicon Valley’s most successful real estate developers and one of Stanford’s most generous donors, died Jan. 24. He was 84 years old.

Stanford alumnus John Arrillaga has played a key role in the development of many campus projects and has made extraordinary contributions to undergraduate scholarship programs, capital projects and athletics at university over the years. (Image credit: Ray Purpur)

For nearly six decades, Arrillaga has dedicated its expertise and significant financial resources to projects on the Stanford campus, from athletic facilities to graduate student housing, as well as a wide range of programs supporting undergraduates. undergraduate and graduate. While many buildings bear his surname, many other contributions have been made quietly – he preferred to stay out of the spotlight, often working directly with university leaders, vendors and staff to push a project forward. In 2009, Arrillaga received the Uncommon Man’s Degree, Stanford’s highest honor, for his service to the university.

“Our community mourns the loss of John Arrillaga, whose extraordinary generosity had a profound impact on our university for more than half a century,” said Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “John’s support has changed the lives of countless Stanford students. He has also transformed our physical campus – his deep philanthropic support is matched only by the gift of his time and expertise in architecture, construction and more. I will personally miss John’s dry wit and sense of fun. I am deeply grateful for his remarkable vision and commitment to Stanford, which will be felt for generations to come.

Perhaps no project speaks more to Arrillaga’s service than Stanford Stadium. Demolition of the old stadium began moments after the last football game of the 2005 season – and less than nine months later, a state-of-the-art facility was complete and ready for the Cardinal’s first home game. His personal supervision was credited with the unprecedented time to complete a project that would normally take several years.

Arrillaga was legendary for his meticulous attention to detail, whether managing the design and construction of a large-scale project, tasting hot dogs to be served at concession stands, or rolling up his sleeves to rearrange the stones of a fountain. He could often be spotted driving around campus in a golf cart, stopping to chat with a university leader, coach or student – ​​and always picking up stray trash along the way.

His largest donations to the university include a $151 million donation in 2013, which was made to support a variety of university projects, and was the largest donation to Stanford by any living individual at the time; major support for Escondido Village Graduate Residences, which created much-needed on-campus housing for more than 2,400 graduate students; and a transformational gift to eliminate medical school debt for students in need. Since many of his gifts were in kind and difficult to quantify, the total value of his lifetime contributions to Stanford is unknown.

“John has paid back his scholarship many times over – he has never stopped giving back,” says John L. Hennessy, who served as the university’s president from 2000 to 2016 and is now the principal of the Shriram family. of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. “His philanthropy and drive to create great spaces, which has served the entire Stanford community, is evident throughout our campus.”

From humble beginnings to All-American

Arrillaga grew up as one of five children in a working-class family in Inglewood, California. Money was tight: He couldn’t afford a suit jacket for his high school portrait, so he borrowed one from his chemistry teacher. The sleeves were 6 inches too short for the 6-foot-4 senior.

John Arrillaga served as captain of the men’s basketball team during the 1959-60 season. (Image credit: Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

He first made a name for himself playing basketball at Stanford. At that time, an athletic scholarship covered tuition, and scholarship recipients had to help pay for their way by working for the university. Arrillaga held up to six jobs at a time to make ends meet – from washing dishes to delivering mail and working as a gardener. On the field, he started for coach Howie Dallmar for three years, making first-team all-conferences and third-team All-Americans, and serving as team captain during the 1959-60 season. .

Arrillaga earned a degree in geography and a desire to give back. He first contributed modestly to the university’s athletics department. Over time, his initial gifts grew in size and spread to other areas of the university.

Over the years, Arrillaga expressed his passion for Stanford with increasingly generous financial donations and by applying his knowledge of architecture, engineering, construction, and landscaping to improving Stanford’s athletic facilities. He also helped build the Munger Graduate Residence, the Graduate Community Center, the Physics and Astrophysics Building, the Arrillaga Science Center at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and lesser-known projects such as an annex for the University Security Force, among many many other projects. He applied his time, funding, and expertise to the renovation of the Old Union as well as several historic houses on campus. After the death of his first wife, he dedicated the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center in her honor.

“Few people have had such a broad and lasting impact on Stanford as John Arrillaga,” said Persis Drell, provost of Stanford University. “He invested his time, skills, and financial resources in transformational projects at Stanford and SLAC, and he was thrilled to always go beyond the expectations of others. We are extremely grateful for all he has done for Stanford students and our community as a whole.

Cardinal’s biggest fan

Arrillaga was a true Cardinal fan and a familiar figure among Stanford student-athletes. His accomplishments are recognized in the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame and he was often spotted at Jimmy V’s Sports Café, a gathering place for student-athletes, coaches and staff. He also hosted numerous barbecues at his home in Portola Valley for Stanford student-athletes who had won national championships.

John Arrillaga hosted members of the Cardinal football team at his home to celebrate their 2016 Rose Bowl victory. (Image credit: Ray Purpur)

“Throughout more than five decades of dedication and generosity, John Arrillaga has been a fundamental pillar of Stanford Athletics, and the Cardinal community is deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing,” said Bernard Muir, director Jaquish & Kenninger sports. “John believed in college sports and he believed in Stanford. With his unparalleled passion and transformational impact, he laid the foundation for Stanford to achieve remarkable things, and we will do our best to live up to his legacy. It’s a sad day at the Farm. John will be missed often and remembered fondly.

Arrillaga Family Sports Center, Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center, Arrillaga Gymnasium and Weight Room, Arrillaga Hall and Rowing and Sailing Center Arrillaga are all named after his gifts, among other sports facilities. He also played a key role in the development of Olmsted Road accommodation for team staff and renovations to the Maples Pavilion, Sunken Diamond, Football and Rugby Stadiums, Softball Stadium, Stanford Monument Barn, the Stanford Boathouse and the Stanford Campus Recreation Association.

More than 300 students have attended Stanford, supported by the need-based and athletic scholarships established by the Arrillaga family. This year alone, nearly 50 students are the recipients of its scholarships. Former student-athletes recipients include Tiger Woods, 20-year-old Katie Ledecky and Christian McCaffrey.

In 2001, the San Francisco Chronicle described Arrillaga as “the man most responsible perhaps than anyone else for building, literally and figuratively, the nation’s preeminent college athletic program.”

A legacy of giving

Arrillaga’s professional success began when he and his business partner, Richard Peery, purchased orchards in the land surrounding Stanford University as the tech boom began to swell. Back then, before it was Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara Valley was called the “Valley of Heart’s Delights” for its blossoming orchards and canneries.

Arrillaga and Peery began developing the land into small office parks, betting that if they built the space, tech companies would soon follow. Their company, Peery-Arrillaga, became one of Silicon Valley’s largest commercial real estate developers, eventually leasing office space to companies like Intel, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Fortune Arrillaga once described Arrillaga as “perhaps the richest man in Silicon Valley who didn’t make his money building a tech company.”

Arrillaga stressed the importance of philanthropy to his family. His daughter, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, ’92, MBA ’97, MA ’98, MA ’99, and son, John Arrillaga, Jr., ’92, MBA ’98, became philanthropists in their own right.

Arrillaga-Andreessen is a philanthropic entrepreneur, lecturer in business strategy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and founder and chair of the board of trustees of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. She is a former member of the Hoover Board of Overseers and has served on the boards of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Stanford Athletics; in addition, she served as co-chair of its 25th meeting. She and her husband, Marc Andreessen, are longtime supporters of Stanford Health Care and made the lead donation to Marc and Laura Andreessen’s emergency department in 2007. In 2020, they made a generous donation to help in the face of unforeseen costs incurred in the fight against COVID -19.

John Arrillaga, Jr., is co-founder and director of A&E Real Estate Holdings, which invests in New York City neighborhoods. At Stanford, he volunteered for the DAPER Investment Fund, Golf Course Advisory Board, Stanford Athletics Board, and its 10th and 15th Meeting Campaign Committees.

In 2013, Arrillaga-Andreessen wrote: “While my father taught me many important lessons… two stand out: give as much as you can, and also give among your resources – time, mind and money. . These are principles that I respect on a daily basis.

Arrillaga is survived by his wife, Gioia Fasi Arrillaga; two sisters, Alice Arrillaga Kalomas and Mary Arrillaga Danna; one brother, William “Bill” Arrillaga; her daughter, Laura, and her husband, Marc Andreesen; his son, John, and his wife Justine Stamen Arrillaga; and four grandsons. He is predeceased by his first wife, Frances C. Arrillaga, MA ’64, MA ’65, and one brother, Gabriel Arrillaga.

A celebration of life is planned by the family. For more information or to register, email [email protected]

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