In the latest Around Town column, find out which Palo Alto developments were named the "best" in this year's ARB awards, who is serving as the interim CEO of Downtown Streets team now that the nonprofit's founder Eileen Richardson has retired, and which 20-year veteran at the Santa Clara County Library District will be taking the reins as deputy county librarian for strategy and staff development.
AND THE WINNER IS ... Movies have the Oscars, TV shows have the Emmys and Palo Alto's builders have the ARB Awards, a local tradition that takes place every five years and honors the best recent developments. Initially scheduled for 2020, the awards were postponed until this year because of the pandemic. Members of the Architectural Review Board were charged with reviewing every project that was reviewed by the board and completed by the end of 2020. This year, the board honored eight projects, giving six of them ARB awards and handing out honorable mentions to two others. Of the six winners, two are city projects located next to Rinconada Park: the rebuilt Fire Station 3 (Shah Kawasaki Architects), which reopened during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reconstructed Junior Museum and Zoo (CAW Architects), which resumed operations last fall. The commercial building at 3223 Hanover St., which is known as Folded Wings and includes office and research-and-development space, picked up an ARB Award. So did Congregation Kol Emeth (EID Architects, Field Architecture and Hawley Peterson Snyder) for the demolition and replacement of a synagogue at 4175 Manuela Ave. And in the downtown area, the ARB handed out awards to 375 University Ave. (C2K Architecture), a reconstructed building that once housed The Cheesecake Factory and that now has TheRealReal; and the office building at 611 Cowper St. that was designed by Ken Hayes. Honorable mentions went to a residential complex at 430 Forest Ave. (David Solnick), and to the recently constructed Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at 701 Welch Road (Perkins & Will). The winners were honored by the city at a Sept. 21 ceremony. The winning projects also will be displayed on physical boards at City Hall for about a month and their images will be rotated on the large screen in the City Hall lobby.
INTERIM CEO JOINS STREETS TEAM ... Downtown Streets Team announced on Sept. 14 that it has found an interim CEO to replace Eileen Richardson, the nonprofit's retiring founder who launched the organization in Palo Alto nearly two decades ago. Jim Rettew, who recently served as the interim executive director at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), will assume the temporary role until a permanent replacement can be found, the San Jose-based organization said in a statement. Downtown Streets Team assists the homeless by hiring them to clean local roads and providing support services, such as giving housing vouchers and mentorship. The Greater Richmond Interfaith Program is a nonprofit that provides a family homeless shelter, soup kitchen, casework, encampment outreach and other services to homeless people. Rettew's position at the organization was his fourth as an interim director position in the Bay Area. Rettew said he is looking forward to joining the Downtown Streets Team. "It's an honor to join the DST family to positively transform the lives of those we serve. For the last 17 years, Eileen, board, staff, and team members have developed this program from its conception as a daring idea into an award-winning, evidence-based homelessness intervention program unlike any other. My pledge is to continue their good work and forge an even brighter future," Rettew said in the statement. Richardson said she "couldn't feel better about handing over the reins to Jim. Jim has proven himself to be passionate, energetic, and empathetic. He's committed to DST's vision of ending homelessness."
A NEW CHAPTER ... On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Library District announced that it has named Marlene Iwamoto as deputy county librarian for strategy and staff development. Iwamoto will implement the library district's new strategic plan as a part of this role, emphasizing inclusivity by ensuring that library services continuously adapt to meet the shifting needs of local communities. "Marlene brings with her over two decades of experience working for (the district), getting to know the organization from the ground up," County Librarian Jennifer Weeks said in a press release. "She understands what makes the Library District most effective and is ideally equipped to help us adapt and progress as we strive to best meet the evolving needs of our patrons." Beginning her career with the district in 1997 as a library page, Iwamoto credits her years as a library clerk as the inspiration for her community service. "Libraries have tremendous potential to positively affect the lives of our communities," Iwamoto said. "I hope to help improve the depth and diversity of our offerings in terms of programs and services, working closely with library staff to identify new opportunities." Iwamoto has worked at every library in the Santa Clara County district and tried both frontline and management positions. She served as community librarian for Los Altos and Woodland libraries starting in 2017, and worked as Library Services Manager for Organizational Development starting in 2019, overseeing staff development, wide-reaching initiatives and collaborations with organizations like Children's Advocacy Center and the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center to establish mini-library collections.