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‘Folded Wings’ Honored by the City of Palo Alto for Architectural Innovation

Form4 Architecture Wins Municipal Design Award for Silicon Valley Office Plaza

Form4 Architecture's project Folded Wings earned high honors from the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board. This 10-acre tech campus includes a butterfly-inspired canopy and a central courtyard open to the public. Photos: John Sutton. Click here for high-resolution images.


PALO ALTO, CA—San Francisco firm Form4 Architecture designed one of six projects to receive high honors from the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board (ARB). Every five years, Palo Alto recognizes the most architecturally interesting projects from the hundreds constructed in the city.


Form4’s ARB-award-winning Folded Wings office complex in Stanford Research Park is a tech campus that draws design inspiration from butterflies. “We looked to nature to design Folded Wings with the goal of achieving human modernism at a pedestrian scale,” says Form4 Chief Production Officer James Tefend. Adds Chief Artistic Officer John Marx, AIA: “Of the approximately 200 awards Form4 has won since the firm was founded in 1998, this one stands out because Palo Alto has incredibly high architectural standards, and the ARB was a valued partner in bringing this project to reality.”


Commented the Palo Alto ARB, “We’ve seen other beautiful buildings from Form4, which we consider to be preeminent local architects.” In total, Form4 has completed 14 Palo Alto projects to date. Folded Wings is one of 13 projects designed by Form4 at Stanford Research Park, equaling 2.75 million square feet—more than 25% of the office park’s total built square footage.


Created by Form4 for developer Sand Hill Property Company, Folded Wings is a 10-acre urban plaza designed to appeal to tech-company tenants. The project combines a new 115,425-square-foot LEED Gold building with an aesthetically complementary LEED Silver update to the site’s existing 72,662-square-foot building. A pedestrian-friendly central courtyard unifies the two structures. The design’s lyrical intent is emphasized by a butterfly-form canopy that signals access to two levels of below-grade parking.


The recipient of six other international design awards, Folded Wings is counter to the typical notion of the Silicon Valley fortress campus where non-tenants and their guests aren’t allowed behind the gates. This site is open to the public as well as to the rest of the business park. Adjacent to walking and bike trails, the courtyard and park invite the local community to share the beauty.


“We have done several memorable commercial buildings with Form4, and Folded Wings exceeded our goal of creating an office park where people are excited to work,” said Allison Koo, Managing Director, Sand Hill Property Company. “This award is a testament to Form4’s distinctive design.”


Form4 Architecture believes in returning a sense of humanity to Modernism through emotional meaning and poetic design. Winner of the 2017 American Prize for Architecture, Form4 creates formal expressions that are emotionally resonant and conceptually thoughtful, as well as deeply extend the client’s values and goals. As collaborative partners in the building process, the principals of Form4 Architecture—Paul Ferro, John Marx, AIA, and James Tefend—are actively involved with every project from concept to completion, bringing the collective wealth of years of expertise and knowledge to each client’s vision. Since 1998, the firm has built a rich portfolio of award-winning work for national and international clients within diverse market sectors.