Palo Alto Greenlights New State-of-the-Art Mass Timber Office Building

Sustainable New Building Receives Local Entitlement Approval for Stanford Research Park

Form4 Architecture received local entitlement approval for Verdant Sanctuary, a new sustainable office building located in Stanford Research Park. Renderings courtesy of Form4 Architecture.

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PALO ALTO, CA – Form4 Architecture, a San Francisco-based firm renowned for Bay Area techspace designs, received entitlement approval from the city of Palo Alto for its new sustainable office building project in Stanford Research Park. The two-story, 52,000-square-foot building is noteworthy as one of the first of its size in Silicon Valley to be designed and approved for sustainable mass-timber construction. This is the 17th project Form4 has done at Stanford Research Park.

The building embraces nature through each design element, including its natural setting, its almost entirely wooden and glass construction, and its dramatic roof design that echoes the shape of a bird’s wings. “We call the building Verdant Sanctuary because it offers a pastoral break in a canyon of structures built on zero-lot lines,” says architect John Marx, AIA, Chief Artistic Officer of Form4 Architecture. “It will harmonize with the surrounding buildings and add an inspiring, sustainable project to the community.”

Verdant Sanctuary, designed for repeat client Sand Hill Property Company, is an innovative mass-timber project in Silicon Valley, the global epicenter of technological change. The new building extends a legacy of advancements and will be adjacent to 607 Hansen Way, Stanford Research Park’s first building. Designed by noted German Expressionist architect Eric Mendelsohn in 1953, 607 Hansen Way was initially home to radar/microwave innovator Varian Associates. Verdant Sanctuary is designed to establish a calm, synergistic harmony with the current community, sensitive to the scale, design, and materials of the neighboring structures.

Form4 designed Verdant Sanctuary to be pedestrian friendly. The project features one level of below-grade parking and a mature street tree landscape. The building will be all-electric, with PV panels for sustainable energy harvesting and a green roof for water conservation and natural insulation. A roof garden and terrace will enhance the park-like setting, and the building’s heavy incorporation of mass timber will reduce carbon emissions during construction as well as hedge against possible structure fires as mass timber is fire resistant.

“The approval of entitlements for this building is a great win for the local community as it will create a beautiful, environmentally sustainable building with state-of-the-art technology that can serve as a model for the future of hybrid timber/steel building design,” said James Tefend, Chief Production Officer at Form4. The design was recently awarded an International Architecture Awards Honorable Mention by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

In addition to Form4, the Verdant Sanctuary project team includes Guzzardo Partnership (landscape architect), Luminae Souter (lighting design), DCI Engineers (structural engineer), and ME Engineers (MEP engineer). The project is anticipating a 2024 groundbreaking once an anchor tenant is determined.

About Form4 Architecture

Form4 Architecture believes in returning a sense of humanity to Modernism through emotional meaning and poetic design. The award-winning firm specializes in creating environments—whether tech offices, mixed-use developments, educational facilities, or cultural institutions—that respond as equally to the environment of the site as they do to the people they serve. Winner of the 2017 American Prize for Architecture, Form4 creates formal expressions that are emotionally resonant and conceptually thoughtful, as well as deeply extend the client’s values and goals. As collaborative partners in the building process, the principals of Form4 Architecture—Paul Ferro, John Marx, AIA, and James Tefend—are actively involved with every project from concept to completion, bringing the collective wealth of years of expertise and knowledge to each client’s vision. Since 1998, the firm has built a rich portfolio of award-winning work for national and international clients within diverse market sectors.

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