A multigenerational house in Palo Alto
Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects designed this ultra-modern 7,000 square-foot Palo Alto residence, for her family. Nicknamed “Floating Boxes,” the home creates an illusion of three floating boxes.
The boxes, which appear to float separately but are structurally interconnected, symbolize the three generations that share the home: Mary and her husband, their four children, and Mary’s parents. The home’s ultra-modern minimalist style stands out in the neighborhood. Mary’s multigenerational family home redefines modern design in Silicon Valley, both through the exterior facade and the interior details. The floating concept continues inside the home with walls that appear to be detached from the floor and ceiling, an effect that was achieved using special aluminum drywall molds. The house includes doors with no jambs to create a completely flush look with only a slim reveal between the door and the walls, and door handles without rosettes. A 52-foot-long glass facade opens the home to the backyard, enhancing the indoor-outdoor flow.
The primary goal of the design was to provide the family members with ample options for privacy and connectivity. Maydan Architects designed an attached ADU on the ground floor for the grandparents, with its own exterior entry as well as a door that leads to the rest of the house. The unit includes a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, two bathrooms, and a small office. Also on the ground floor is a living room with 16-foot-high ceilings, and dining area open to the kitchen, with a motorized screen that can be used to divide the space as needed. In the kitchen, a custom mix of walnut, glossy white, and dark gray cabinetry by Maydan Architects is complemented by white Corian countertops and soft gray porcelain slabs on the wall. A living room library brings warmth into the space, while a ladder adds a touch of color and enables the family to reach the higher shelves. On the right side, a wall with a double-sided fireplace separates a home office. From the living room, the office appears to be ensconced in a concrete box, a striking design element that further emphasizes the theme of floating boxes.
The basement floor is washed with daylight, designed with room for large lightwells on both sides. The two teenagers have suites in the basement that open to their own below-grade patio and can function almost as separate apartments. Also in the basement, a spacious playroom, media room, and gym provide additional spaces for individual and communal recreation. A major objective in the design was the creation of a space in the basement for the Maydan Architects office, complete with a bathroom and pantry. An exterior staircase leading to the office enables complete separation from the house, creating a comfortable workspace for employees and a suitable location to host meetings with clients. The second floor of the home consists of a master bedroom suite, three children’s bedrooms, and two bathrooms.
Although designed and completed before the pandemic, the concept proved ideal for remote working and learning. The children had privacy for school, Mary and her husband for work, and the grandparents had a safe place to be separated from the younger generations if needed. The project was designed to be suitable for the family for many years. Maydan Architects incorporated forward-thinking design details such as an elevator shaft to enable easy installation of an elevator if ever needed by the older generation.
The home has a passive solar energy design, with a 10’ overhang for blocking the sun and preventing excess solar heat gain. The home enjoys soft natural light throughout the day but does not require additional shading due to the overhang and orientation. The home is prepped for solar panels which are currently being installed and has many other sustainable elements, including green building materials such as zero VOC paints, LED lighting throughout, tankless water heaters, and electric car plug-ins in the garage.
While striking and ultra-modern, the house is warm, livable, and inviting. The home takes a mature approach to a soft color palette, with shades of whites and grays complemented by purple, dusty pink, and other soft tones. Maydan Architect’s airy design sensibility is achieved through open, light-washed spaces that promote a seamless indoor-outdoor flow.