Proposal for 52,453 SQFT Office Building in Palo Alto to Return for Review by Architectural Board

Palo Alto, Palo Alto Architectural Review Board, Smith Development, Mountain View, KSH Architects, San Francisco, The Guzzardo Partnership Inc, Bay Area

By Kate Snyder

A proposal for a 52,453 square foot office building in Palo Alto’s Evergreen Park neighborhood will return for another session with the city’s Architectural Review Board. The board met earlier this month to discuss the project and highlighted several key aspects they would like the applicants to consider in adjustments to the current design, such as making the retail portion more visible, allowing for the possibility of accommodating housing in the future and adopting a warmer color palette.

The developer is Smith Development, based in Mountain View, and the architect is KSH Architects in San Francisco, according to project plans. The landscape architect is The Guzzardo Partnership, Inc., also in San Francisco.

Located at 123 Sherman Ave., the project site is bounded by Park Boulevard and Grant Avenue andconsists of two existing office buildings and one existing single family home. The plan also includes merging three parcels – 123 Sherman, 150 Grant Ave. and 2501 Park Blvd. – into one.

The new building would be three stories and 52,453 square feet in total, encompassing 4,123 square feet of retail, 48,330 square feet of office space and 1,605 square feet of amenity space. Out of the total square footage, 35,371 square feet of office space would be new for the site. The building is anticipated to accommodate 170 to 220 office employees and 10 to 20 retail employees. Additionally, there would be two levels of below-grade parking with 172 stalls.

According to project plans, the proposed building was designed to respond to the character of the surrounding context – at 37 feet tall, it’s the same height as the adjacent 2555 Park Blvd. Retail would be located on the ground floor on Sherman and the office lobby would be located at the corner of Park and Sherman. Office space would be located on the second and third floor.

The building is set back 20 feet from the existing apartment buildings on the northern property line, and the exterior along Sherman features a large recess at the center of the elevation with terraces. That feature is meant to provide articulation and variation in massing to reduce the scale of the new building. Exterior materials include clear glass, painted aluminum panels, stenciled aluminum panels and accent panels recalling the color of natural wood.

Key points made by the Architectural Review Board included an interest in seeing added depth to materials, more details and thought behind the intent of the proposed metal panel design, for the applicants to consider a green wall similar to a neighboring building, an increase in floor height of the planned ground floor retail space and locating the retail space along Park rather than Sherman. Other suggestions the board made were that the applicants consider in terms of massing adding elements that provide more modulation to the long steady facade, more attention to detail in design at the rear of the building, that the applicants consider a warmer color palate and possibly modifying the design in a way that could accommodate housing in the future. The board ultimately voted to have the project return for another session at an undetermined date in the future.

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