This new five-thousand-square-foot downtown Palo Alto home captures the opposing energies of Silicon Valley: the precision of technology and the exuberance of nature. Sited on the existing footprint of a 1950s ranch house, in order to preserve the site's spectacular live oaks, the two-story residence translates California's midcentury architectural vocabulary of indoor/outdoor living into a new modernist aesthetic.
The transparent living room volume exposes the front and back gardens to full view, both from the street and the interior. Open glass corners connect to the sky and the towering oaks. Private and public realms are thus dissolved to give primacy to nature, which defines the residents' fluid living space and invites the flaneur's eye.
The open-plan house incorporates the latest in building technologies, including innovative channel glass from England and avant-garde structural systems. In the circulation spine, the exposed steel moment frame, which provides lateral support during an earthquake and is made of thin columns and beams, expresses the home's construction system and its presence in an active seismic zone. Natural light from the floors, ceilings, and walls combines with translucent, transparent, and reflective materials-polished black granite, marble plaster, stainless steel, and silicon bronze-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.