Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library
Rinconada Library

The renovation of a 1950’s library – designed by Edward Durell Stone – refreshes original elements and ageless intent while introducing contemporary spaces and systems.



Palo Alto, CA

Edward Durell Stone’s 1958 Rinconada Library exemplifies the architect’s emerging trademark of interacting interior and exterior spaces. A permeable, patterned terracotta “veil” encloses the building and two generous reading room courtyards. A vast double-pitched and deep-eaved wood shingle roof caps the building; from the inside, it draws itself into a high clerestory ridge framed by a low sea of luminous ceiling panels echoing the terracotta pattern.

To modernize the library’s character-defining features, great care was taken to demount and disassemble original yellowed and brittle luminous panels to recreate the pattern and manufacture. The wood roof shingles were replaced with fire treated wood shingles. Old growth maple panels were demounted from interior columns and sequenced for identical reinstallation atop new utility services. To reinforce the terracotta screen wall, helical bars were inserted into vertical grout joints between the masonry units, allowing for in-place retrofit.

Research was conducted to understand the relative strengths of the grout and units to ensure modifications would not compromise the wall. Exterior planter bowl refurbishments were color matched for accuracy. Remodels from the 1980s (including high bay skylights) were removed, restoring Stone’s original architectural intent.

The addition introduced carefully located group study rooms and a program room expansion encircled by a perforated metal screen (echoing the terracotta pattern) that “lifts” Stone’s veil. A new lobby sneaks in beneath the roof eave, enclosed by structurally elusive glass walls. The lobby preserves exterior paving and echoes planters as benches – extending an architect’s ageless design values.


  • Client: City of Palo Alto
  • Scope: Historic preservation and expansion
  • Status: Complete
  • Photography: Cesar Rubio


  • Merit Award – AIA San Francisco
  • Honor Award – AIA San Mateo County
  • Project of the Year – APWA Silicon Valley
  • First Place, Existing Institutional Buildings, Educational Facilities – ASHRAE Golden Gate Chapter
  • Preservation Award Winner, Contextual Infill – California Preservation Foundation
  • Institutional Restoration & Remodel Award – Palo Alto Stanford Heritage

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