The dynamic architecture of the Innovation Curve Technology Park at Stanford Research Park celebrates the creative process of invention.
Architect: Form4 Architecture
Client: Sand Hill Property Company, Menlo Park, CA
Location: Stanford Research Park, Palo Alto, CA, USA
Team: Robert J. Giannini, John Marx, AIA, Paul Ferro
Contractor: Vance Brown Builders
Landscape Architect: Studio5
Lighting Designer: Luminae Souter
Structural Engineer: DCI, Inc.
MEP Engineer: M-E Engineers
Photography: John Sutton; Richard Barnes
From the architect: The peaks and valleys of sweeping metal curves serve as architectural metaphors for the highs and lows of exploratory research and development. Designed by Form4 Architecture of San Francisco, the new development comprises four buildings on the edge of Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto. The LEED-Platinum project contributes to the site’s emergence as an uplifting campus for tenants involved with computer gaming, translation software, and digital inventions. Representing the diagram of innovation on the face of the buildings, the lyrical design serves as a potent visual reminder of the dedicated, expansive, and intense work taking place inside.
The Innovation Curve buildings are arranged around a central landscaped courtyard with diagonal pedestrian paths leading from adjacent streets through the site. Color-coded buildings are constructed in two phases, with occupied Phase I comprising 66,700-square-foot Building 2 in blue and 76,560-square-foot Building 3 in red. Phase II, due for completion in 2020, includes 66,700-square-foot Building 1 in yellow and 66,700square-foot Building 4 in purple. Each 35-foot-tall structure comprises two offset wings flanking a central, glass-faced lobby to break up the building mass. In the lobby, both the concrete courtyard paving and metal curves of the building exterior extend through the two-story space to create a sculptural portal connected to the outdoors.
On the building exteriors, projecting roofs and deep overhangs—fabricated of painted recycled aluminum— are configured to express the roller-coaster evolution of innovation. The tall, two-story curves rise to represent the crescendo of the creative spark and pragmatic analysis of ideas, and descend to transition into long, horizontal bands symbolizing the implementation phase of invention. The architecture of the new research park captures the forward-leaning spirit of technology in metal and glass, evoking machined precision, transparency, and modernity. Thus, the process of creativity is made visible in three dimensions.
The overhangs curving downward to low points near the ground capture the challenging process of risk assessment, market financing, and decision-making. From there, they rise to the ends of each building to express an uplifting conclusion to the innovation diagram. These projecting planes supply outdoor balconies offering vistas of the campus and the bits and bytes world outside the technology park.
In addition to their symbolic significance, the deep overhangs work in combination with vertical glass fins to shade the building exteriors, control solar heat gain, and allow for greater transparency and connection to campus life. To allow for more exterior glass, deep horizontal sunshades, which also act as light shelves, extend from perimeter walls. Solar-controlled skylights augment the daylighting scheme to reduce the need for artificial illumination.
To achieve its LEED-Platinum certification, the building incorporates additional sustainable elements, such as automated shade infrastructure, high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems, high-performance cool roofs, solar photovoltaic power generation, recycling of construction waste, locally sourced materials, and bioswales landscaped with native plants. The sustainable features contribute to significant increase in thermal comfort for the occupants, which results in higher occupant satisfaction and productivity, as well as a gentle wear on mechanical systems.
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