After long search, mosque for south Palo Alto takes shape"> After long search, mosque for south Palo Alto takes shape" /> After long search, mosque for south Palo Alto takes shape" /> Mosque earns board praise — but 'make it match' | News | Palo Alto Online |


Mosque earns board praise — but 'make it match'


It began with a brief prayer blessing and ended with civic blessings, too. After hearing a Muslim benediction and design description from Durriya Tyabji, a member of the sect planning to build a mosque in South Palo Alto, the city's Architectural Review Board unanimously expressed approval.

"It makes me proud to be in this community," Board member Judith Wasserman said at the preliminary, feedback-only review. (Board Vice Chair Grace Lee was recused from the discussion.)

At the 998 San Antonio Road site, the current church — now used as a mosque by the Anjuman-e-Jamali nonprofit — would be torn down. A 40-foot-tall prayer hall with a 58-foot decorative minaret would be built in a style fusing modern and ancient touches.

The current design from architects John Barton — a City Council member — and Tony Carrasco shows a prayer hall with an intricate entranceway carving, arched windows, a roof parapet and subtly patterned cement blocks. It was inspired by the North African Fatimid mosque style, taking cues from existing medieval mosques in Egypt, Tyabji said.

Adjacent to the mosque would be a second, attached structure consisting of ground-floor parking, a second-story community center and second-floor apartments for imams (Muslim preachers) and visitors. Excluding parking, the complex measures 10,122 square feet.

Board members' main concern was ensuring the prayer hall and attached community spaces didn't look too different. Architect Carrasco introduced the design by noting religious traditions holds that the prayer hall stand out, while other buildings blend into the background. The current drawing shows the community space and living quarters with a plain facade of wood slats, distinctly subdued alongside the prayer hall.

But board Chair Clare Malone Prichard asked that the design for the two spaces somehow match, in materials, colors or otherwise.

Board member David Solnick said the community space would likely look like an addition — but perhaps that wasn't too bad. Solnick, who has chided architects for designs he dislikes or feels are inappropriate for a given site, even called his personal opinion irrelevant.

"I like it, although I'm not sure liking it really matters. It's guided more by traditions than likes or dislikes," he said.

Some of those traditions, as described by Tyabji, include that the mosque face Mecca; contain a minaret, separate spaces for male and female worshippers and windows; and have a community hall.

The site sits alongside an offshoot of San Antonio Road near U.S. Highway 101, far from houses but next to a preschool.

Related story:

After long search, mosque for south Palo Alto takes shape

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

It appears that there is as much money in the muslim community as there is in the jewish community. At least this looks better than the one the jewish community are building.

Like this comment
Posted by Abou Ali
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2008 at 8:47 pm

This mosque is not a one that a Sunni Muslim can cheer up to. A mosque that called itself a shia mosque is built on excluding the Sunni Muslims.
Please don't get too excited by starting to think that you live in a community that do not mind to have a mosque among the many churches and synagogues.
This makes me think about the "affection" that Moqtada sadr (a SHIA) holds for the Sunnis and Americans in Iraq.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2008 at 1:40 pm

I think it really depends on whether the Mosque is a private building or a public one. If it's private I presume they can share it with whomever they want. If it's public then it must be open to everyone including Sunnis muslims. Interesting dilemma.

I think it's rather provocative of them to choose a site right opposite the Campus for Jewish Life.

Like this comment
Posted by Jamal
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2008 at 8:37 pm

While we're at it let's rename Highway 101 حلم الطريق

Well, it's definitely a lot more pleasing to the eye than the church I went to growing up in Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2008 at 8:55 pm

The last thing we need in Palo Alto is rancor over religion.

Great that this group has a home here, there is an interesting history of the sect of Islam on wiki, it comes from Yemen originally.

Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2008 at 11:34 am

This is an interesting use of the property. In the past it was a wine store and way back when, a topless bar that Playboy magazine said had the first bottomless dancers in the country.

While it was a strip joint a fire was set in the Cabana Hotel as a diversion so the strip joint could be robbed with little fear of the police showing up.

Like this comment
Posted by A Momin
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 22, 2008 at 6:38 pm

As far as I know this community is a peace loving community and they have good relations with christians and jews and ofcourse sunnis too. whoever is resembing them with the moqtada' sadr is doing it out of ignorance.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 5,227 views

More Stupid Plastic Food Things
By Laura Stec | 16 comments | 2,649 views

Operation Varsity Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 8 comments | 1,815 views

State Legislature on Housing: Getting the Demos out of Democracy & with it, Accountability
By Douglas Moran | 7 comments | 1,589 views

Environmentalists will soon be fighting housing advocates over what to do with the SF Bay locally
By Diana Diamond | 20 comments | 1,033 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details