Packard Foundation opens new, eco-friendly HQ | July 6, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 6, 2012

Packard Foundation opens new, eco-friendly HQ

David and Lucile Packard would be 'fascinated and delighted' with new space, daughter says

by Chris Kenrick

New, eco-friendly headquarters for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation reflect environmental values of the Packard family going back decades, their daughter said Friday, June 29.

Susan Packard Orr, board chair of the foundation launched by her parents in their Los Altos Hills home a half-century ago, opened the two-story, 49,000-square-foot building in downtown Los Altos.

With $6 billion in assets, Packard currently is ranked by the Foundation Center as the seventh largest in the United States.

In addition to global initiatives in conservation and science, population and reproductive health and children, the foundation makes grants in the Bay Area. Packard family members have built the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, Palo Alto's Stanford Theatre, San Jose's California Theatre and an array of other ventures close to home.

Architects said the visually striking two-story cedar- and glass-exterior building, surrounding an open-air courtyard, will mean an immediate 40 percent reduction in water use by foundation staff and, within about a year, a 25 percent reduction in carbon footprint.

The new headquarters also is designed for "net-zero energy consumption," using solar panels to offset 100 percent of the occupants' energy consumption. Two 10,000-gallon underground tanks will capture rainwater to be used to water the 90-percent-native landscaping and flush toilets throughout the building.

Architect Marc L'Italien of the San Francisco firm EHDD said the building was designed to maximize the use of daylight and natural ventilation. Teleconferencing equipment throughout will enable Packard staff to cut back on travel.

"This building will give us a chance to 'walk the talk' ... and we hope it also will be an example that inspires others because it will take action by many to move us forward to an environmentally sustainable world," foundation President and CEO Carol Larson said.

"It was very important to us to build something that would be replicable."

The cost to build a "replicable shell" of the Packard headquarters, including the eco-friendly features and net-zero capability, is $477 per square foot, or about $23.5 million, foundation Chief Financial Officer Craig Neyman said.

Additional aesthetic touches, such as interior copper cladding and eucalyptus doors salvaged from San Francisco's Doyle Drive project, boosted the price to $37.2 million.

The new building will allow consolidation of the foundation's 110 staff members, who have been scattered among several buildings in Los Altos.

Founded in 1964, the Packard Foundation operated out of the family home on Taaffe Road in Los Altos Hills before moving to a small brick building in downtown Los Altos after hiring its first staff in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s Lucile Packard designed a larger headquarters across the street from the new building.

"We've gotten bigger and smaller with the stock market, and we hope we're at a good sustainable point now," Susan Packard Orr said.

The Taaffe Road house, surrounded by acres of apricot orchards, continues to be used for conferences and retreats, and also made available to nonprofit organizations.

Second- and third-generation members of the Packard family comprise about half of the foundation board, which also includes non-family trustees such as former Stanford University President Donald Kennedy.

The younger generation of trustees is "pretty much on board with what we're doing, but we definitely need to make room for new ideas that come along with the next generation," Orr said.

Her parents, she said, "would be fascinated and delighted at what we've achieved here in Los Altos — bringing together technology and design in a beautiful space that is good for the environment and good for the people who work here."

The new headquarters was built by DPR Construction. Project and budget management was provided by Rhodes/Dahl LLC of Charleston, S.C.

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


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