VA Palo Alto Mental Health Center

The Mental Health Center’s public courtyard contributes positively to the process of emotional healing for the veterans who live here and for those coming for outpatient care.

Upon entering the outdoor courtyard, visitors experience a layered translation of the surrounding Northern California hillsides. A buffer of native grasses creates a rustling and calming edge along the walkways. Inclined, raised planters filled with Native California wildflowers to define a central contemplative space shaded by a Ginkgo grove. Wrapping this central space along the planters are sheets of perforated weathered steel, whose hole patterns reinforce the dappling of light through the tree canopy. In a clearing in the grove on encounters “aggregate”, an art installation whose textured surface captures shadow and welcomes touch. Nearby, a series of wood benches, design to capture the curvature and structure of leaves, provides an intimate space for reflection.

This project was completed in collaboration with RHAA Landscape Architects and artist Phillip K Smith III

Location: Palo Alto, CA
Client: Department of Veteran Affairs
Size: 90,000 sq. ft.