Silicon Valley’s mass timber ‘Verdant Sanctuary’ aims to live up to its name

A new mass timber office building in Silicon Valley, named Verdant Sanctuary, was recently approved for construction. Situated in Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, California, it aims to embrace nature through each element of its design.

Designed by Form4 Architecture—a San Francisco-based firm with experience in designing for the Bay Area’s tech space—the two-story, 4,830-m2 (52,000-sf) building is noted as one of the first of its size in Silicon Valley to be designed and approved for sustainable mass-timber construction. It embraces nature through its 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 will harmonize with the surrounding buildings and add an inspiring, sustainable project to the community,” says architect John Marx, AIA, chief artistic officer for Form4 Architecture.

The new building extends a legacy of advancements and will be adjacent to 607 Hansen Way, Stanford Research Park’s first building. Designed by German Expressionist architect Eric Mendelsohn in 1953, 607 Hansen Way was initially home to radar and 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.

The project has been designed to be pedestrian friendly and features one level of below-grade parking and a mature street tree landscape. The building will be all-electric, with photovoltaic (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 design was recently given 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 (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing [MEP] engineer). The project is anticipating a 2024 groundbreaking once an anchor tenant is determined.

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