The City of Palo Alto in California has selected a design by Hayes Group Architects for a sustainable mixed-use development out of a selection of over 100 projects for its design awards for 611 Cowper Street. The project design received an Award for Architectural Excellence for the locally focused plan commissioned by real estate development and investment company R&M Properties.

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Modern mixed-use building in Palo Alto

“Palo Alto’s entitlement process is rigorous; the design community is held to the highest standards,” said Hayes Group Architects founder, Ken Hayes, AIA. “Being recognized by the ARB, knowing how many projects they review in a five-year period, makes the award that much more special.”

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First floor of glass windows of the building with greenery around

At 611 Cowper Street, the building is 35,000 square feet and has four stories. Additionally, it includes a two-story, below-grade garage with car stackers and three floors of commercial space with a full-floor residence above. The building was designed and completed in 2016 to CalGreen Tier 2 and LEED Silver standards. Hayes says the building is located mid-block next to a 12-story residential complex and down the street from a red-tiled roof Spanish colonial building. Moreover, the building’s design was created in response to this context in form, color and materials. Consequently, 611 Cowper Street used glass, concrete, metal and terra cotta.

View from deck atop the building

Meanwhile, R&M co-founder Stephen Reller says that the design award is very rewarding, as he is a local and is proud of how it turned out after being so thoughtfully designed.

Palo Alto view from the mixed-use building

Hayes has designed and built more than 200 commercial projects in Palo Alto and nearby Menlo Park. He also says that in these towns, downtowns are for living, working and playing. Additionally, post-pandemic cities could be looking at more mixed-use buildings that allow for short commutes and vibrant no-commute downtown living.

With a mix of colors, materials and facades that frame different parts of the building from the outside and frame views of the surrounding city from the porch and indoors, 611 Cowper Street does come across as a building that was thoughtfully designed. Covered balconies and large glass windows, coupled with slatted exterior shades on taller windows create a variety of uses for internal spaces that let in natural light while shading from the daytime heat and allow occupants to put the space to use in different ways.

+ The Hayes Group

Images via Patrick Argast