261 Hamilton Avenue

(Medico-Dental Building)

Role: Job Captain and Designer, CAW Architects
Site: Palo Alto, CA
Completed: 2016
Project Size: 40,000 SF, core & shell, historic renovation

A 1920s reinforced concrete, four-story building in the Hamilton-Ramona Historic District, 261 Hamilton Avenue formerly served as Palo Alto’s Post Office, on a prominent corner of downtown across from City Hall. Designed by Birge Clark, the building is a contributing structure in the local historic district, but had not had a major renovation in its nearly 100-year history. Our team rehabilitated the building with the goal of giving it another hundred years of service.

The project received the 2016 Palo Alto - Stanford (PAST) Heritage Preservation Award for Commercial Rehabilitation.

Exterior view

Originally designed as the “Medico-Dental Building” for use by small doctor and dental practices, with the post office and small retail businesses on the street level, the building was occupied for many years by the University Art art supply store. The owners decided to renovate the building fully, and to maintain the building’s original office and retail use, with ground-floor retail on the commercial streets and office space above. The renovation included seismic strengthening, new life safety and accessibility features, and fully new MEP, fire, and other systems. Additionally, the project team preserved and rehabilitated the historic exterior, preserved the lobby and some interior features, and installed a new roof deck on the low roof above the old post office.

As part of the exterior rehabilitation, original tile mosaics from the post office, showing the mail being delivered by train, plane, and ship, and the original building signage, were uncovered on the Hamilton Avenue facade. Non-original aluminum storefronts were removed and replaced with compatible bronze storefronts, and original tile and ironwork was cleaned and restored.

Restored storefronts, with original and new tile Interior, mezzanine Interior, fourth floor, with exposed ceilings Project rendering