225 California Drive - CODAworx

225 California Drive

Submitted by Hillary Thompson

Client: Dewey Land Company, Inc.

Location: Burlingame, CA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Project Team


MBH Architects


Hillary Thompson

Hillary P Thompson Studio


Dewey Land Company

Industry Resource

Lusardi Construction Co.

Industry Resource


Industry Resource

J Ginger Masonry

Industry Resource

Horizon Contract Glazing


Archie Held

Industry Resource

Glass Pro


Once an underutilized single-story building, MBH reimagined the site with a structure to serve the bustling Silicon Valley Community with 3 floors of office space over ground-level retail/parking and 3 subterranean parking levels. Designed to LEED Gold specifications, this ground-up development is characterized by an elegant balance of distinctly modern elements mixed with traditional architectural components that tie in the community and its history. A combination of cement plaster, glass, stone, steel and perforated metal dance across the exterior, punctuated by frieze panels, custom etched glass, and a fountain designed by local artists. Future tenants will include Stanford Medical. 91,734sqft


Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Burlingame, California is known as the “City of Trees.” Motorists, rail commuters and pedestrians alike enjoy the walls of towering Eucalyptus trees along main streets El Camino Real and California Drive. The scene is iconic on the Peninsula, a vision to behold and a pleasant aroma in the air. For residents, the trees have created a sense of place since they were planted nearly 150 years ago.
In reimagining 225 California Drive for the community, MBH’s team’s main objective was to create a building that would weave into the heritage and cultural fabric of the City. Being an emblematic representation of Burlingame and a recognizable call-out of the natural beauty of the Bay Area, the design team decided to make Eucalyptus trees a prominent thematic feature. Large frieze panels containing representations of the trees would adorn the front elevation and a glass awning etched with leaves would shelter the main entrance, creating harmony between tradition and modernity, nature and technology, and the history and future of the community. The etched glass pattern repeats on the fourth floor elevation and again at a smaller scale on the door to the building’s bike room.


MBH Architects worked closely with the developer, Dewey Land Company, the City of Burlingame, local artist Hillary Thompson, the fabricators Veristone (friezes), Glass Pro (glass), and installations teams from Lusardi Construction Co. (GC), J Ginger Masonry (friezes), and Horizon Contract Glazing (glass) to bring the project to life. After consulting the Client, MBH provided Thompson with Veristone’s marketing collateral, a handful of fallen Eucalyptus branches from Burlingame trees, and general direction for initial concept sketches. After a thorough review of both representational and realistic sketches, the Client and MBH chose to move forward with representational drawings for the frieze panels and a more organic, natural approach for the glass. In addition to further developing the vector drawings, Thompson created clay representations of the frieze leaves and diagrammatic gradient renderings to specify depths for the friezes. MBH’s in-house design team created and 3D-printed small scale mockups of the panels. This allowed for multiple iterations to perfect scale and provide valuable information for the fabricator. Simultaneously, Glass Pro created 1:1 scale 12” square panels to clarify scale for the awning glass. Armed with a realistic understanding of concept and scale, the MBH team created photorealistic renderings to present to Burlingame’s Planning Commission.

Additional Information

The custom fountain was designed by Richmond, California artist Archie Held. http://www.archieheld.com/watersculpture.html Additional photography of the project will be available in early June including retouched photos. The photos shown here have not been retouched. More process photos can also be supplied upon request.