This retail / commercial building strengthens and enriches a prominent corner of Palo Alto’s main downtown shopping street. At the ground floor, the recessed storefront, sheltered beneath a wood canopy, welcomes shoppers and draws out the warm hues of the porcelain, emphasizing the corner. At the second floor, vertical fins direct views to the buildings opposite, focusing attention on the immediate neighborhood. The finless third-floor glazing opens up panoramic views to the sky and the broader landscape.
In massing, the building is an important marker of the civic cross axis outlined in the city’s urban design guidelines. Its faade is tallest at the corner and along the major street frontage, stepping down toward the center of the block to meet the background scale of the larger urban context. Its upper two floors of glazing shift toward the corner, revealing at mid-block a hint of the office stairway. The three bands of complimentary glazing materials lighten and articulate the surface of the second and third floors of the building, producing a subtle visual play of pattern, color, light and reflection. Viewed obliquely, the second-floor fins, densest over the office entry, extend the opacity of the building’s limestone base; from directly below or from across the street, they disappear, yielding to reflections of the sky.