317-323 University

This project is made up of two 2,500 SF parcels combined into one and situated in Palo Alto’s vibrant downtown district. Two Birge Clark buildings, side by side, occupied the sites. Birge Clark was a distinguished architect who practiced in Palo Alto in the early – mid twentieth century.

The program required the demolition of one building and the restoration of the other, a Historic, Category III, Palo Alto building. New floor area would include approximately 15,000 SF of commercial uses in a concrete structure. Office space would occupy the second and third floors while retail uses would enliven the ground floor. A full basement would be expanded in depth to make this space useable.

The goals for the new building were to restore the historic building according to the secretary of the interior’s guidelines and create additional floor area for basement, ground floor retail and two upper floors of office space and respond to the context of Palo Alto and enhance the pedestrian experience.

The concept for the addition was to reinforce the syncopation of the retail frontages along University Avenue, contrast the historic building but relate to it through alignment of building elements and the proportion of windows and to create rooftop terraces and large glass openings along the street to enliven the street facing façade. The scale of buildings along this block transition from single-story buildings on one corner to four-story buildings on the other. In between the two, this building mitigates these differences by creating a physical transition from one corner to the other. Outdoor terraces are incorporated in two locations: one on the second floor behind the tile roof and the other on the third floor above the two-story façade. These terraces serve to reduce the impact of the new building on the historic building by creating separation and reduced height between the two.

Deep overhangs, front and rear, provide shading devices to reduce solar gain. Pitched roofs create roof screens for mechanical equipment and clerestory windows for daylighting. The project is targeted for a LEED-CS silver rating.