Palo Alto Art Center Renovation

A transformed Palo Alto Art Center will open its doors in Fall 2012

The Palo Alto Art Center’s transformation is inspired by the Center’s mission to engage the community in the creative process as both observers and creators through exhibitions and studio and education programs. The transformation will enable the Palo Alto Art Center to expand its programs and services to a broader base while maintaining its high level of quality and enhance its reputation as a leading regional art center. The Palo Alto Art Center has been one of the country’s most popular and unusual facilities since it opened its doors to the public in 1971. Serving 70,000 residents annually, it combines both an internationally acclaimed exhibitions program with studio art, art instruction in painting, drawing, ceramics, glass, media arts, extensive art activities for school children including Project LOOK!, publications and a variety of public events including lectures, interpretive programs and meet-the-artist opportunities.

The 2011-2012 renovation will be the first physical update of the Center since it opened 40 years ago as a retrofit of a former City of Palo Alto government office building. Undertaken by the firm of Mark Cavagnero and Associates, the transformation of the Center will feature:
  • Transformed exhibition spaces including raising the ceiling on the main gallery, a refreshed glass gallery
  • State-of-the-art gallery lighting.
  • Upgraded ventilation and climate systems.
  • Reconfigured studio and classroom spaces to better serve the needs of today’s artists of all skill levels.
  • New landscaping by SWA Group (who designed the living roof on San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences) making outdoor spaces more usable, sustainable and beautiful.
  • A new Palo Alto Art Center Gallery Shop
  • A special wing dedicated to children and youth with a new dedicated entrance on Newell Road, four classrooms, community exhibition space and street turnaround and drop-off for parents.
  • A redesigned entry with lounge area, information kiosks and way-finding signage.
  • Fully ADA compliant access for disabled visitors. - New flooring throughout the Center.
  • LEED Silver certification for green design and use of sustainable materials and practices.


Mark Cavagnero Associates is a San Francisco-based architecture firm noted for its design of cultural, education, civic and other community-oriented projects. Established in 1988 with a deep commitment to serving the public good through modern architecture, the firm's work has been recognized with more than 45 awards, including the 2010 Distinguished Practice Award from the American Institute of Architects, California Council. In addition to the Palo Alto Art Center, Cavagnero Associates is currently designing the Mammoth Lakes Courthouse in Mono County, California, and SFJAZZ, a new performance venue in San Francisco. Recently complete projects include the Community School of Music and the Arts in Mountain View, the renovation of the Oakland Museum of California and the ODC Theater in San Francisco.