Saturday, January 24, 2009

Distinctive Palo Alto Architects

Local Points of Interest for Architecture Buffs

Monty Anderson

Two of Palo Alto's most illustrious architects, Birge Clark and Pedro DeLemos, had a decided influence on the way Palo Alto looks today. Both practiced architecture in and around Palo Alto beginning in the 1920s and they shared a love of the Spanish Revival style of architecture that blossomed in California during the Arts and Crafts movement.

As Californians became tired of transplanted Eastern styles, architects searched for a style of architecture that better represented the uniqueness of California. They didn't have to look far, because California was dotted with Spanish missions. The missions, with their thick adobe walls, exterior courtyards and clay tile roofs, were perfectly adapted for the climate of California. Clark and DeLemos embraced this style of architecture, and forever changed the look of Palo Alto.

Today many of the city's most important buildings are designed in this Spanish Revival style. Local buildings of note by Birge Clark include the Palo Alto Post Office, the University Arts Building, the President Hotel, the Varsity Theater and many of the buildings along Ramona Street between University and Hamilton. This area is designated a National Register Historic District.

Also on Ramona Street are buildings by DeLemos; the buildings housing Nola's restaurant, and the Double Rainbow Ice Cream Parlor across the street are examples of his work. In addition, Waverley Oaks, his own residence off Waverley Street, has been featured on the Gamble Garden Center Tour and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Menlo Park boasts Allied Arts, which was also designed by DeLemos.

Join the Museum of American Heritage as we celebrate these and other local architects and architectural styles with displays of graphics and architectural artifacts at MOAH's Spring exhibit On the House: Architecture and Artifacts.

Monty Anderson, a Principal at Cody Anderson Wasney, is a member of MOAH's Board of Directors and consulting with the Exhibits Committee for On the House.

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