Form4’s ‘Sophisticated’ Architectural Design Benefits the Community-at-Large

Bay Area Firm Lauded by AR’s MIPIM Future Project Awards


Urban Frames, designed by Form4 Architecture, is intended to benefit both on-site users and the surrounding Palo Alto community with visual appeal and sustainability. Image courtesy Form4 Architecture. Click here for high-resolution images.

SAN FRANCISCO: Form4 Architecture, an award-winning design firm known for its lyrical and sustainable design of Silicon Valley tech offices, was lauded by the AR MIPIM Future Project Awards with Commendation in the Mixed-Use category for its design of Urban Frames.  The Palo Alto, CA, residential and office space was designed to instill a distinct character in an area globally known as the epicenter of the tech industry.

“This project combines place-making with a sophisticated proposition about how residential and workspace mix together,” says the AR MIPIM Future Projects Awards jury, which celebrates excellence in on-the-boards and unbuilt projects.

Urban Frames is a strong example of architectural design intended to benefit both on-site users and the surrounding community with visual appeal and sustainability.  The mixed-use, two-building ensemble invites pedestrians and tenants alike to gather, share, retreat, entertain, and work.

The two buildings would occupy a 1.3-acre site and a quarter of a city block along Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto, articulating a pronounced yet unobtrusive skyline against the horizon.  The stacking of the cubic “frames” would allow individuality to coexist with the design’s multiplicity.  It intends to strike passersby with an array of elegant white cubic frames resting on a travertine podium and gently cantilevering from the edge.

The structures—designed with LEED Gold guidelines—are separated into designated zones with 55,000 square feet of commercial office space and 30,000 square feet of residential space, and sit above two levels of below-grade parking.  Among the many sustainable features incorporated into the design are electric vehicle charging stations, low-flow plumbing fixtures, drought-resistant landscaping, bike parking stations, and abundant natural light to reduce the need for energy consumption.  Landscaped park space and pedestrian walkways between zones would allow for chance encounters and socializing.

The office spaces are designed to be both warm and contemporary, with state-of-the-art HVAC, electrical, and security systems that appeal to a wide base of tech and venture capital firms typical to the area.  The buildings would occupy three floors, and would be flexible for further division depending on future market conditions.  The residential building consists of a mix of two- and three-bedroom units, featuring open floor plans and overhanging balconies that invite tenants outdoors.  Each unit retains a distinct and recognizable presence while remaining fully integrated into the overall design.

Sponsored by The Architectural Review, the AR MIPIM Future Project Award contributes to the more than 95 accolades garnered by Form4 Architecture internationally from 2015 to present.  Among other esteemed award programs, the firm has been recognized by the Chicago Athenaeum European Center for Architecture and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, the Leading European Architecture Forum (LEAF) Awards, Architizer A+Awards, and German Design Council.

Form4 Architecture believes architecture is the art of giving form to ideas.  The award-winning firm specializes in creating environments—whether for tech offices, mixed-use developments, or residences—that respond as equally to the topography of a site, as they do to the people they serve.  In 2017, the firm was named winner of the American Prize for Architecture by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.  Form4 creates formal expressions that are not only poetically moving and conceptually thoughtful, but also reflective of the client’s values and goals.  As collaborative partners in the design process, the principals of Form4 Architecture—Robert J. Giannini, John Marx, AIA, Paul Ferro, AIA, and James Tefend—are personally involved with every project from concept to completion, bringing the collective wealth of years of expertise and knowledge to each client’s vision.  Since 1999, the firm has built a rich portfolio of award-winning work for national and international clients within diverse market sectors.