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The Best Residential Architects in Palo Alto, California

April 17, 2024 7 Min Read

Situated in the tech epicenter of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, California, effortlessly blends innovation with a laid-back vibe. With a lush canopy of heritage oaks and charming residential streets, this city offers a retreat from the hustle of nearby tech hubs. It’s a haven where eclectic boutiques meet Michelin-starred eateries, and the prestigious Stanford University adds an intellectual vibrancy. With top-notch schools, expansive parks, and a robust cultural scene, Palo Alto becomes more than a location; it’s a lifestyle.

If you’re eyeing Palo Alto for your new home, creating a space that feels uniquely yours is the first step. In this list, you can discover Palo Alto, California’s six best residential architects, each poised to transform your dream dwelling into a tangible reality.

M.Designs Architects

384 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

Nestled in the heart of Palo Alto, California, M.Designs Architects embodies a legacy of over 45 years, specializing in sustainable residential, commercial, and industrial projects. The company, led by Founder and Principal Malika Junaid alongside Co-founder Chip Jessup, brings expertise to every endeavor. Known for its commitment to environmentally conscious design, its portfolio spans diverse projects, from home and office remodels to innovative structures like Eichler homes, townhouses, villas, estates, and mid-sized commercial developments.

The firm is set apart by its holistic approach, which seamlessly integrates design, documentation, construction support, and cost estimation. The company’s accolades, including an Environmental Quality Award and recognition at the World Architecture & Design Awards, underscore its dedication to excellence. M.Designs Architects’ commitment to quality is further evident in its affiliations with numerous prestigious organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). The firm has also been featured in publications like The Wall Street Journal and Modern Luxury Silicon Valley.

Cass Calder Smith

44 Mclea Ct, San Francisco, CA 94103

Established in 1990, Cass Calder Smith is dedicated to pursuing architectural and design excellence under the guidance of Cass Calder Smith. The firm’s diverse portfolio spans public and private sectors, and includes spaces created for living, working, eating, and more. Cass Calder Smith has gained international acclaim for its restaurant projects, demonstrating architectural and commercial success.

Cass Calder Smith embraces a modernist philosophy at its core, balancing innovation and creativity with a foundation of common sense and experience. The firm is distinguished by its ability to explore and express opportunities of maximum potential, tailoring each project to an appropriate scale. Further known for exceptional spatial and material qualities, Cass Calder Smith has received awards such as the prestigious 2017 CODAwards Residential Merit Award. The firm has also been featured in publications like Silicon Valley Magazine and Architectural Digest, and is affiliated with esteemed organizations American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the AIA Custom Residential Architects Network. 

CAW Architects

455 Lambert Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Dedicated to enhancing the world through thoughtful design, CAW Architects approaches each project as a catalyst for positive change, crafting new buildings across distinguished campuses, dynamic downtowns, and refined neighborhoods. It is committed to revitalizing existing structures, breathing new life into historic buildings, and repurposing structures for contemporary needs. Regardless of the project type, it navigates the intricate terrains of design, entitlement, and construction, recognizing the uniqueness of each project and the necessity to harmonize structure, function, and budget. The firm uses a holistic approach in shaping its projects by employing sustainable materials, maximizing natural light, ensuring energy efficiency, and responding adeptly to the local site and climate.

CAW Architects is led by Principal Christopher Wasney, whose academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University and a Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned the elite distinction as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). This blend of education and expertise underscores the firm’s deep-rooted commitment to excellence.

Studio S Squared Architecture 

1000 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA  95128

Studio S Squared Architecture, based in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, is an architectural powerhouse with a profound impact on the area’s residential and commercial design. The company’s diverse and dynamic team, led by partners Eugene Sakai and Jose Ares Abajo, stands out for its collaborative approach with clients throughout the design process. This hands-on involvement ensures a seamless journey from initial concepts to the completion of construction, fostering an atmosphere of innovation.

Since its inception, the firm’s ethos has been about creating structures and delivering innovative designs that redefine how people experience and interact with their surroundings. The firm’s commitment to excellence is reflected in its affiliations with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and AIA San Francisco. Studio S Squared Architecture has also gained recognition through publications like SFGate, Palo Alto Online, and Real Homes, further highlighting its influence in the architectural landscape.

Young and Borlik Architecture

4962 El Camino Real Ste 218, Los Altos, CA 94022

Founded by Andrew Young and Steve Borlik in 1988, Young and Borlik Architecture epitomizes a dedicated approach to custom residential projects. With both principals holding a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, the firm carries 35 years of experience shaping distinctive homes across the San Francisco Bay Area. Its success lies in crafting close working relationships with each client, ensuring that every project reflects their individual tastes, lifestyles, and budgets. It enjoys transforming outdated structures into spaces that align with its clients’ unique needs. 

Young and Borlik specializes in full-service, custom residential projects, utilizing its comprehensive knowledge of local building requirements and approval processes. The firm’s commitment to personal attention and extensive experience make it adept at navigating smooth remodels for homes and businesses. Affiliated with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), principals Andrew Young and Steve Borlik continue to lead the firm with the same passion that sparked their collaboration over three decades ago, shaping homes that stand as testaments to personalized design and enduring relationships.


860 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94107

With a profound belief in the transformative power of thoughtful design, SchwartzAndArchitecture is an architecture and interior studio that seamlessly intertwines creativity and pragmatism. Led by founder Neal Schwartz, whose dual degrees from Harvard University and commitment to teaching bring academic depth to the studio, the firm’s ethos revolves around critical thinking. This philosophy fuels problem-solving and instills rigor and consistency in the design process.

SchwartzAndArchitecture’s commitment to critical thinking extends beyond the studio, as represented in its affiliation with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). While constantly exploring new materials and technologies, the firm always charts its course, avoiding passing stylistic trends. Its focus remains steadfast on enduring qualities like space, proportion, scale, and texture, where the beauty of these elements transcends temporal constraints. An exemplary showcase of SchwartzAndArchitecture’s approach is evident in their featured project, the Buena Vista Heights Home, a testament to the studio’s ability to meld innovation with timeless design principles.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at San Francisco Architects with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at San Francisco Architects, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration

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