Standing out by fitting in
One Site, Many Missions
Palo Alto’s North Ventura district lies just east of downtown, and just north of Stanford University and its research park. Cloudera and Tencent were two of the tech companies already headquartered in the neighborhood, both in buildings owned by a developer with a vision. Jay Paul Company foresaw a new, modern innovation cluster in North Ventura, and hoped its third site would further that goal.
To add to the challenge, Jay Paul wasn’t the only stakeholder with a vision. The site is a 10-minute walk from a Caltrain station on Palo Alto’s second main street, California Avenue, which put it amid a city-designated Priority Development Area. The city was seeking development that supported a vibrant community and a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly urban culture.
Our design needed to serve not only Jay Paul Company, who had to attract a high-tech tenant, but also the city of Palo Alto, who had to approve the project, and the community of North Ventura, who had to support it.
From Street to Forest
Our response to the project’s multiple challenges was a single guiding strategy: respect the project’s urban context. Working closely with the City of Palo Alto, we came up with two big moves for the site design. First, instead of positioning the building at the back of the site, as is typical for R&D facilities, we pulled it toward the street. That connected the building with the sidewalk and bicycle path and, as well, created a local beacon. Second, we replaced the standard car deck with below-ground parking. These two moves sparked a third: surround the building with greenspace that buffers it from its residential neighbors, extends the city’s urban forest, and offers tenants outdoor workspace.
The big idea for the building followed on the heels of the pedestrian-focused site design: emphasize the horizontal, rather than the vertical. This creates a low-slung, two-story structure scaled for people and designed to feel at home in its residential neighborhood. Wide bands of glass let passersby see the inner workings of the building and let the building’s residents gaze out at the tree-lined streets and Stanford foothills beyond. With daylit interiors, easy access to green space, and sustainability features such as drought-tolerant landscaping, the building will support the well-being of its tenants and its natural environment.
Our response to the project’s multiple challenges was a single guiding strategy: respect the project’s urban context.
Good Buildings make Good Partners
The building has won appreciation from the city’s Architectural Review Board, praise from its next-door neighbors, and a Gold rating from the Green Building Council. It has also successfully attracted a tenant, who was secured during the pandemic. While some buildings are devised to make a bold statement, others, like this one, are designed to listen and contribute to the positive evolution of a community.
A broad, continuous overhang and wrap-around perforated metal sunshades reinforce the building’s pedestrian-scaled horizontal massing while supporting the city's sustainability goals.1/4
- Client Jay Paul Company
- Use Mixed
- Square Feet 31,500
- Status Completed
- Sustainability LEED Gold
The people behind the place
Rico del Moral