This new, 5,000 sq.-ft. downtown Palo Alto house captures Silicon Valley’s opposing energies: the precision of technology and the exuberance of nature. Sited on the existing footprint of a 1950s ranch house to accommodate spectacular live oaks, the residence translates California’s mid-century architectural vocabulary of indoor/outdoor living into a modernist aesthetic.
The transparent living-room volume exposes the front and back gardens to full view from the street and from the interior. Open glass corners connect to the sky and the towering oaks. Private and public are dissolved to give primacy to nature, which defines the residents’ fluid living space and invites the flâneur’s eye.
The open-plan house incorporates the latest in building technologies, including innovative glass products from England and avant-garde structural systems. The exposed structural steel moment frame in the circulation spine and the thin columns and beams express the home’s construction system and its presence in an earthquake zone. Natural light from various sources—floors, ceilings, and walls—combine with translucent, transparent, and reflective materials to create visually dynamic spaces.
Throughout, details and surfaces play with notions of formality and informality. The cool touch and reverberating sound of stone and glass in the high-ceilinged living room counter the warmth of wood and fabric in the cozy kitchen and den. All the senses are engaged in this modern dialogue of contrasts.