Joe Fletcher
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
ManufacturersWestern Window Systems
ManufacturersNEOLITH by TheSize
ManufacturersVELUX Commercial

Product Spec Sheet


Feldman Architecture as Architects

The clients of The Sanctuary, recent empty-nesters planning ahead to retirement, hoped to downsize and simplify in the design of their new Palo Alto home. When the clients purchased the property, an old wooden fence across the front yard and original house closed off the site from the street. Behind this rough and aged presentation however was an urban refuge of lush vegetation throughout the deep lot. This sense of discovery served as the original inspiration for the design of the house and directed both architect and client to its culmination. 


The proximity of the downtown Palo Alto area by foot and bike was fundamental to the clients’ decision to purchase this lot, and their belief in building to a higher density in an urban setting lead to the inclusion of a second story apartment. The couple fell in love with the overgrown garden and its obvious potential, approachingGround Studio Landscape to help them enhance the landscape; retaining scenes of serenity and surprise while creating more of a cohesive and modern feel.


Through their collaboration with Ground Studio Landscape, the clients connected with our firm, bringing with them a desire to design a long-lasting modern house that fit comfortably into the surrounding neighborhood while featuring its unique and charming landscape.


The house is sited quietly behind the large heritage oak tree with its canopy stretching across the generously sized front yard. After passing under itsbranches, guests are lead through a series of courtyards and view gardens that weave through the undulating footprint of the building. Each interior space is paired with its own landscape moment, allowing the architecture and landscape to flow into each other.


The structure floats on piers, allowing the building to participate in dialogue with the trees on site while protecting the root areas. The floor plate projects beyond the building envelope and dissolves into balconies to blur the sense of indoor/outdoor while at the same time lifting the building up from the ground. Even the driveway is constructed out of floating concrete structural slabs supported on piers to minimize the impact on the heritage oak tree. By expanding the living area to spill into the outdoor spaces, our teams provided ample room for the clients to entertain their ever expanding family.


Three pavilions span the depth of the lot. The thoughtfully placed second story apartment isdesigned for rentals.Below, board-formed concrete walls serve as organizing elements in the main residence which separate private from public areas.Diffusednatural light streams into the space throughout the day, working gently with the clean material palette of concrete and Alaskan yellow cedar. The Sanctuary was constructed as a modern house that allows the landscape to speak first. The design features its many hidden courtyards, inviting guests to experience the same sense of wonder that first drew our clients to this urban oasis.

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This NorCal Sanctuary Channels Total Calm

Western Window Systems as Manufacturers

Inspired by the environment, architect Tai Ikegami's design is in service of the landscape.

When it came to designing a nature-embracing modern home in Palo Alto, California, architect Tai Ikegami took his responsibility to protect and venerate the magnificent trees on the lot seriously.

“The house is designed around a series of trees on the site – an oak in the front, another oak on the side, a redwood in the back. These are dramatic trees with a large scale,” says Ikegami, a partner at Feldman Architecture, San Francisco.

“One of their highest priorities was to be in this shelter, protected, but have a sense of connection to the outdoors,” Ikegami says. “The design was about, ‘How can the architecture start to dissolve?’ So that while you’re sheltered, you’re still strongly connected both visually and physically to those outdoor spaces.”

Floor-to-ceiling glazing was the clear solution. About 50 percent of the building is glass, including a retractable wall of glass doors in a great room that measures 40 by 20 feet. Massive glass openings in other parts of the home create seamless transitions from the interior to a series of outdoor courtyards and gardens.

“Each area of the house has its own courtyard. It was about creating these individual vignettes of outdoor experiences that you can participate in while you’re inside,” Ikegami says. “So, having floor-to-ceiling glass units, whether it’s big picture frame windows or large sliding doors, was a huge part of our design.”

The diffused natural light streaming through the windows and doors works well with the material palette of concrete and Alaskan yellow cedar to create a setting that partially inspired the name of the project: Sanctuary House.

Ikegami says they wanted to keep the material scheme as simple as possible to help the home recede into the landscape – and having a great window and door package with narrow sightlines was key. “The ability to work with manufacturers like Western Window Systems so that all the apertures on the ground floor really go from floor to ceiling is important,” he says.

“This is a project where, if you look at the photos and squint your eyes, the Western Window Systems package almost disappears,” Ikegami continues. “And I think that’s the highest compliment. The multi-slides are great because they help not only the visual connection, but also the physical connection to the outdoors.”

Clerestory windows helped illuminate Ikegami’s design concept. “There are these high clerestory windows all over the central space, and just the amount of natural daylight and cross-ventilation we were able to achieve through those openings is a huge part of the success of the design,” he says.

In addition to several floor-to-ceiling multi-slide doors in the main living area, the home also has a Series 600 Window Wall in the master suite. The window wall connects to a Series 980 Pivot Door that opens onto an outdoor space with an old persimmon tree as its centerpiece.

“The master suite is the indoor-outdoor connection with the shallowest vantage point, because the master suite is all the way at the back of the house. The glass opening in the master suite is no more than 15 feet from the real outline, but because of the diversity of outdoor space and the different quality and relationship to it, that space ended up working out nicely,” Ikegami says. “It’s really intimate. We have this persimmon tree that almost kisses the building, and we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to keep it, but it’s just thriving, and being able to take that in when you’re in the master suite is pretty magical.”

Van Wijnen Office Heerenveen
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