2020 RDAA | Custom Urban House | The Sanctuary | Feldman Architecture

It’s not often that the landscape architect brings the design architect to a project, but such was the case with The Sanctuary, which required an artful relationship between the disciplines. The small, deep lot was an overgrown mess, but its proximity to downtown Palo Alto made it worth the team effort between Bernard Trainor’s Ground Studio and Feldman Architecture.

“From the first time we stepped on the property, it revealed what it wanted to be,” recalls architect Tai Ikegami, AIA, the partner in charge at Feldman. “And whenever we work with Bernard, we challenge each other.

“There was a barely standing shack and a falling down fence, but we walked past an amazing heritage oak tree and discovered a depth to the property—an oasis of an urban garden,” he continues. The challenge was to insert a house for empty nesters within the oasis, while preserving its bounty and protecting the maze-like roots of ancient trees. Because the owners are savvy about real estate, the program also tucks in a rental unit over the garage.

The house pulls apart into components to mine choice lot features, hovering above fragile tree roots on a series of piers. Volumes containing the garage and rental unit and the office and secondary bedroom are streetside, while the main entry is along the broad side of the lot. Key rooms—a living/kitchen/dining zone and master suite—orient toward the garden, each engaging a distinct part of the oasis and connecting with it through stepped terraces. “The house is there in service to the landscape,” Tai concludes. “It’s an instrument to experience these vignettes of courtyard, while feeling protected.”



Feldman Architecture
The Sanctuary
Palo Alto, California

Project Credits

ARCHITECT/INTERIOR DESIGN: Tai Ikegami, AIA, partner in charge; Kevin Barden, AIA, project architect; Lindsey Theobald, R.A., interior designer, Feldman Architecture, San Francisco

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Bernard Trainor, Ground Studio, Monterey, California

BUILDER: Derek Gray, Bay West Builders, Redwood City, California

CIVIL ENGINEER: Dale Leda, BKF Engineers, Redwood City, California

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: David Strandberg, Strandberg Engineering, San Francisco

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER: Jonathan Fone, P.E., Romig Engineers, San Carlos, California

LIGHTING DESIGNER: Kin Cladas, Kim Cladas Lighting Design, San Francisco

ARBORIST: Michael Young, Urban Tree Management, Los Gatos, California

PROJECT SIZE: 4,289 square feet

SITE SIZE: .25 acre


PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe Fletcher Photography

Key Products

CABINETRY: Custom cabinets by Mueller Nicholls with plain sliced walnut veneer and Formica plastic laminate finishes (kitchen); custom by Mueller Nicholls with plain sliced walnut veneer finish (bathroom)

CLADDING: Custom clear vertical grain Alaskan yellow cedar siding


COUNTERTOPS: Neolith (kitchen)

ENTRY DOORS: AYC veneered center-hung pivot entry door by West Coast Architectural Millwork; Custom flat slab interior door with white oak veneer by Goldengate Door & Window

FAUCETS: KWC (kitchen); Kohler

FLOORING: Custom polished concrete finish by A  Pellizzari Concrete; monarch plank European oak engineered wood flooring

GARAGE DOORS: Wayne Dalton Garage Doors



INTERIOR LIGHTING: Tech Element; Edge Lighting; No. 8;  AXO; Cedar & Moss; Vibia; WAC Lighting; LBL

MILLWORK/MOLDING/TRIM: Custom by Mueller Nicholls

PAINTS/STAINS: Benjamin Moore; Cabot



ROOFING: Versico Roofing Systems

SINKS: Kohler; Victoria + Albert; Newport Brass and GROHE fittings


TUB: Victoria + Albert


WINDOWS: All Weather Architectural Aluminum

WINDOW WALL SYSTEMS: Western Window Systems



Plans and Drawings

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