Palo Alto Art Center
Master Planning, Design, Renovation
Civil Engineer: Van Maren Associates
Structural Engineer: Hohbach-Lewin, Inc.
MEP Engineer: Gayner Engineers
Landscape: SWA Group
Lighting Consultant: Silverman & Light Consultant
Acoustics Consultant: Charles M. Salter & Associates
LEED Consultant: KEMA Inc.
General Contractor: Big D Pacific
Project/Construction Manager: NOVA Partners Inc.
LEED Certification Silver
Originally built as Palo Alto’s City Hall in 1953, the Palo Alto Art Center has provided arts through exhibitions and education for adults and children out of this facility since the 1970’s. The 28,800 square foot, single-story building, designed by Leslie Nichols, is a classic example of the Modern Ranch style. Over the passing decades, the Center desired a long-range plan to drastically improve its capacity to serve the whole community and renew it as a resource that inspires thousands of visitors each year.
Through meetings and work sessions with the Project Committee, the community, and the City commissions, we developed options for renovating and adding to the Art Center to accommodate the program while respecting the existing Art Center building, the mature landscape of the site, and the residential character of the neighborhood. As set out in the Site Planning phase and accepted by City Council, the Art Center plans for a renovation (Phase 1) and addition to the existing building (Phase 2).
The renovation, completed in 2012, is the first phase to better align the facilities to visual arts programming and to provide a proper environment for artwork on loan for the acclaimed exhibitions. The project scope includes some re-organization of program, systems upgrades, new finishes, landscaping, parking and improvements for full accessibility inside and out. The Palo Alto Art Center houses gallery and exhibition spaces, administrative offices, as well as art studios, classrooms, and an auditorium for use by the local community. The main gallery space and entrance lobby are upgraded to provide an environment more suited for displaying traveling and local exhibits per the American Association of Museums Standards.
The west wing of the building is renovated into a dedicated Children’s Wing, with a new secure entry, drop-off and landscaped courtyard, provide a safe and welcoming environment for this popular and expanding program. With a new slated reclaimed wood fence to screen and protect this new children’s area. A diagonal accent wall of cement board acts as a visual marker for the entrance, incorporating softly-illuminated identity signage for the children’s wing, providing a fresh new face to the community along Newell Road. The sculpture and entry court provides enough seating to double as an outdoor classroom, expanding potential teaching opportunities. PAAC received LEED silver certification.