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The Best Residential Architects and Designers in Palo Alto, California

16 Min Read

Palo Alto is home to a rich profusion of architecture. You can see everything across the city, from Queen Anne style homes to modern-contemporary. These variations give architects and residents the liberty to create unique, innovative new homes. To build a unique home worthy of Palo Alto, you’ll require the services of its finest architects. Below are 15 architectural firms that design residential spaces in the city. These architects are adept in various designs, touting significant knowledge and expertise in sustainable design, home style diversity, as well as experience with a number of distinctive projects for the tourism industry.

We weighed each firm’s accreditation and certifications, professional affiliations, and the recognition they’ve received in the form of industry awards and press. We also took into account their years in the industry, the quality of client reviews they’ve received, and the range of services they offer. For a home designed with the utmost respect for client vision, and in keeping with the highest standards in the industry, get in touch with one or more of these residential architects in Palo Alto.

If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work.

This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.

Aidlin Darling Design

500 Third St. Suite #410, San Francisco, CA 94107

Aidlin Darling Design has won over a hundred awards in the last ten years. Joshua Aidlin and David Darling founded the firm in 1998, and today lead a group of 20 design professionals who have worked together on countless residential and commercial projects. The firm marries artistry with sustainable design, paying close attention to client needs and financial considerations, and helping to realize the potential of each building site. Aidlin Darling Design’s architects are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited professionals, and members of the American Institute of Architects, the International Interior Design Association, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Earlier this year, Residential Design Magazine featured Aidlin Darling Design’s Tree House in Palo Alto. Its open-plan, sustainable design offers an expansive living space. The surrounding trees provide this home privacy while a fully opening wall promotes airflow and provides unobstructed views into the garden. This home blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living.

Earlier this year, Residential Design Magazine featured Aidlin Darling Design’s Tree House in Palo Alto. Its sustainable suburban design offers an expansive living space. The surrounding trees provide this home privacy and promote a natural breeze across the open layout home. This home blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living. 

Bellomo Architects

102 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

Since 1985, Bellomo Architects has adorned Palo Alto’s neighborhood with creative, luxurious homes. Joseph Bellomo is the licensed architect who runs the firm. His broad knowledge of innovative and sustainable design unites architecture and nature preservation. The firm sources local building materials with economic value. Bellomo’s hands-on approach is regularly commended by clients, who appreciate that the firm walks them through every step of the process. Due to Bellomo Architect’s excellence in design, the firm has graced the pages of publications like MidCenturyHome Magazine, Sunset Magazine, SF Chronicle, and Giz Magazine.

Over the years, Bellomo and his team have designed some of Palo Alto’s most innovative and self-sustaining homes. This modern Palo Alto home named Desbard Residence is just one of the firm’s notable projects. The single-family home was designed with a modular structural system and built according to principles of sustainability. Its open atmosphere awakes the senses of its inhabitants and its guests. It serves as more than just a home: it is also a place for contemplation.

Cass Calder Smith Architecture 

44 Mclea Ct., San Francisco, CA 94103

Cass Calder Smith, AIA, started Cass Calder Smith Architecture in 1990. Together with Barbara Vickroy, Tim Quayle, and Taylor Lawson, leads over 30 creative minds who continue to produce innovative designs. The firm has won an impressive 60 awards in the last ten years. Since its founding, the firm has worked with both private and public clients. 

Some of its notable press features include LUXE San Francisco, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Beach Architecture Magazine, and Gentry Magazine. Smith’s architectural and interior design prowess has also been internationally recognized. His early years were influenced by Greenwich Village intellectuals and California artisans.

Take a look at this straightforward contemporary design for a family of five. The team designed this home with the client’s simple lifestyle and close-knit family in mind. It features warm authentic materials and refined details for casual living. The home is partially solar-powered, and its interior is designed to allow a lot of light and breeze to circulate through the area: a perfect abode for family living.

Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

60 Brady St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC) has graced the Bay Area with some of its most breathtaking architecture. Founded in 1979, the firm has worked on a number of residential projects as well as commercial, hospitality, and education projects. Steven Ehrlich, Takashi Yanai, Patricia Rhee, and Mathew Chaney are the four pillars of the firm. These established architects have gained invaluable experience during the years, experience you can count on. EYRC has come a long way from its small studio in Los Angeles to become one of the industry’s most trusted architectural firms. 

Part of its success is the collaborative work produced by its creative team. Its architects and designers come up with designs that are aesthetically pleasing and bring added value to clients’ design investments. With accreditations from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Design-Build Institute of America, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), clients can be sure that their customized designs will perfectly fit their lifestyle.

In Palo Alto, EYRC designed this elegant, modern home for a young couple. The brought a sense of joyous play when it came to the materials and tone contrasts. The home has been highlighted in Modern Luxury: Silicon Valley, Dwell Magazine, and GA Houses. The firm also received an AIA Award, a Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award, and a Global Architecture & Design Award.

Feldman Architecture

1648 Pacific Ave. Suite B, San Francisco, CA 94109

Feldman Architecture is among many firms that are particular about sustainability. It offers clients energy-efficient, green building, and sustainable home designs. Jonathan Feldman, AIA, LEED AP started Feldman Architecture in 2003. From his San Francisco basement, the firm grew in number and worked on bigger projects.

Over the years, Feldman Architecture has mastered design solutions for complex problems and combined that innovation with eco-friendly techniques. The firm’s designs are often one with nature and hand-in-hand with their environments. Whether it’s a residential or a commercial project, the firm delivers, and does so with the same philosophy of sustainability. Recently, the firm won BUILD Magazine’s 2019 Most Innovative Commercial Design Practice. This same award-winning practice is evident in its residential projects.  

Its recent Palo Alto work was awarded the 2018 Residential Honor award from the AIA Silicon Valley Design Awards. The Sanctuary, as its name suggests, is made for clients who look forward to retiring in a minimalistic modern home. The couple sought the expertise of Feldman Architecture’s team in creating a design that will bring together their home and nature. In response, the team designed a series of unique and charming designs that are weaved with its garden and spacious courtyard. The Sanctuary’s beauty has graced the pages of Dwell Magazine and Dezeen.

Fergus Garber Young

81 Encina Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

Fergus Garber Young is a full-service, high-end custom residential and commercial architecture firm based in Palo Alto. The firm’s work is defined by the highest level of attention, management, and environmental stewardship. Its dedication to client needs can be seen in its varied portfolio of homes characterized by diverse styles. The firm was established by Catharine Garber, Daniel Garber, and Heather Young. Its work has graced the pages of LUXE Magazine, Architect Magazine, Luxury Home Magazine, Sunset Magazine, and Modern Luxury Magazine to name a few.

Featured here is a Spanish Colonial home in Palo Alto designed by the firm. With its red barrel tile roof and stucco walls accented by wooden doors, the home captures the relaxing ambiance of Spanish homes. Inside, wooden beams act as structural support and accent the white adobe walls, creating a warm, casual interior. This gorgeous design is among the many that have secured the firm awards, including the 2018 AIA Silicon Valley Firm Award and several AIA Design Awards.

Field Architecture

974 Commercial St. Suite #104, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Stan and Jess Field are the pioneers behind the family-run firm, Field Architecture. Stan’s rich background in architecture started when he was still in South Africa. Later he honed his skills under the tutelage of Louis I. Kahn. As a result of that early experience, his son Jess was exposed to architecture at a young age. That experience fueled Jess’s interest in, and passion for, architecture. Today, the duo leads a team of goal-oriented architects and designers.

Field Architecture has become a globally acclaimed, award-winning firm. Its designs can be found in projects throughout America, Argentina, South Africa, and Israel. The firm designs homes that are beautiful and answer pressing environmental concerns. Aside from touting LEED Accredited Professionals, the firm is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, USGBC, AIA, and the South African Institute of Architects.

One of the striking projects in its portfolio is found in St. Helena. It features one of the oldest Zinfandel vineyards in California. Its multilayered design tells a story about California’s diverse ecosystem balanced out by a playful yet private home. Instead of doing away with the vast nature, its owners and the design team opted to intertwine nature and indoor living. Modern and rustic designs meet at this expansive home creating a textured structure and visual rhythm. The Zinfandel home has been featured in a number of publications including LUXE, Dwell magazine, Dezeen, Metropolis, and more.

John Lum Architecture

3246 Seventeenth St., San Francisco, CA 94110

John Lum Architecture, founded in 1994, is dedicated to creating functional, personal spaces that express clients’ distinct aesthetics.

Aiming to better community health and well-being, JLA combines high quality design with environmentally-sustainable practices and green building methods. The firm has an expertise in housing, ranging from custom single-family to multi-unit projects, including affordable; as well as a thriving commercial interiors practice (hospitality, restaurants, optometry offices and retail). Their most recent recognition includes, a 2018 AIA San Mateo Merit Award, a 2018 Remodelista Considered Design Award, and a 2016 AIA San Mateo Honor Award for Design Excellence.John Lum Architecture, founded in 1994, is dedicated to creating functional, personal spaces that express clients’ distinct aesthetics.

One of the firm’s notable designs is this eco-conversion of a 1961 rancher, located on the Stanford Campus. In order to maintain the original footprint, JLA cleverly excavated the garage into the hillside, and converted the existing garage into living space. Using passive technologies such as a living roof and thermal convection through a unique clerestory system, the home is naturally cooled while being flooded with daylight. Clad in wood and sustainable materials, the once dark and disconnected residence, now blurs the line between indoors and out, doubling the livability of this fairly modest renovation.

Ken Linsteadt Architects

1412 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

Ken Linsteadt has been passionate about architecture for more than three decades. He began practicing in New York, then moved to San Francisco; in 1998 he established his own firm, Ken Linsteadt Architects. Over the years, Ken Linsteadt Architects has built a reputation for designing projects with both modern and classical architectural details, always with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. The firm’s residential work ranges from contemporary architecture to historic preservation.

Classic is good, but sometimes a cover of a classic song can top the original. Take a look at this Palo Alto home, which dates from 1894. Ken Linsteadt Architects designed the restoration of its façade, and the rest of the house was redesigned from the ground up. A new pool and a cozy cabana were added along the way. The home now exhibits the perfect mix of historical and modern elements.

Ken Linsteadt Architects has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle DecorInterior Design, and LUXE: Interiors and Design, among others.

Klopf Architecture

2180 Bryant St. Suite #203, San Francisco, CA 94110

Founded in 2001 by John Klopf, San Francisco-based Klopf Architecture has become an institution for green design and modern architecture. The firm’s team has worked with over 200 clients for residential projects that include sustainable homes, Eichler houses, and minimalist designs. Incorporating artistry with sustainable solutions, the firm incorporates the vision of homeowners and creates homes that people love to inhabit.

Over a dozen magazines have mentioned Klopf Architecture’s design-savvy architects and projects. Looking through the firm’s portfolio, its homes lean towards modern styles, from mid-century to contemporary. The home pictured below is an example of the firm’s beautiful work. Behind the simple façade waits a modern-minimalistic design that delights inhabitants and visitors alike. The Eichler concept inspired the firm to design and maximize the house from end to end. Its open-space layout makes even tight spaces feel spacious and light.

M•Design Architects

4131 El Camino Real Suite #200, Palo Alto, CA 94306

M•Design Architects is an international architectural firm specializing in sustainable residential design. The Palo Alto-based firm started in 2002 and its team has over 45 years of experience in design, construction, and documentation management. One of its credentials includes a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards certification.

Malika Junaid co-founded M•Design Architects with Chip Jessup. Junaid is a successful architect with a collection of award-winning projects. Her previous clientele includes Apple, Facebook, and Google. Jessup, on his part, brings over 30 years of architectural and construction experience to his projects. His area of work ranges from detailed residential space to Fortune 500 companies.

Recently, M•Design Architects won the 2019 World Architecture & Design Awards. This home’s design puts functionality in mind—homeowners and guests enjoy every corner of the home. The team wove design and purpose together. These kinds of designs have placed the firm in publications like the SF Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and Modern Luxury Silicon Valley.

Maydan Architects

713 Southampton Dr., Palo Alto, CA 94303

Before founding Maydan Architects, Mary Maydan was an accomplished journalist. Her courageous career move to architecture brought Palo Alto one of its leading firms. Publications like BVD Design Magazine, South Bay Accent, Wall Street Journal, Dwell Magazine, Home + Garden Design, SF Chronicle, and Elle Decor have featured Maydan Architects’ impressive home designs.

This 4,900-square-foot home is one of Maydan‘s most celebrated works. It touts a modern-minimalist design, including its materials and the color palette. Both local and international publications have heaped praise on the home.

Swatt Miers Architects

5845 Doyle St. Suite #104, Emeryville, CA 94608

Robert Swatt, FAIA, and George Miers, AIA are the licensed architects behind Swatt Miers Architects. They share a passion for celebrating the beauty of nature and timeless design. The firm specializes in architectural design for residential and commercial projects.

The firm has won over 85 local and national awards for its design excellence. One of its recent achievements is winning two 2019 Merit Award from the Gold Nugget Awards. Publications like Architect Magazine, Malibu Home Magazine, SF Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner Magazine, and Los Angeles Times Home Magazine have featured Swatt Miers Architects’ designs.

One of its notable projects in Palo Alto is th fruit of the creative collaboration between the client and the firm. The home is divided into two parts, a space for adults and another for children and guests.

Topos Architects

654 Gilman St., Palo ALto, CA 94301

Peter Baltay, AIA, is the Principal Architect for Topos Architects. Before founding Topos Architects in 1992, he served as a project manager for an architectural firm in Seattle. That role gave Baltay over two decades of experience in designing buildings and homes.

The firm pays close attention to site conditions and occupant requirements, then provides its signature, aesthetic designs. This process ensures that designs adapt to their environment and ensures their functionality. Topos’s portfolio displays an array of home designs from Mediterranean to modern-contemporary.

One of its notable projects found in Palo Alto is the Scott Street House. The home features a Mediterranean style and was created for a professional couple with young children. In designing this home, Topos Architects took into consideration its occupants. Its open kitchen and the living room layout cater to the family’s informal lifestyle. Its façade, Italian mahogany windows, hand-split limestone walls, and antique clay roof tiles all provide the home’s authentic Tuscan flavor.

Victor H. Lee & Associates

2469 Alpine Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025

Since 1977, Victor H. Lee & Associates has been gracing San Francisco Bay Area with classic home designs. It is one of the premier residential architectural firms in the peninsula. The firm’s expertise with home designs ranges from Tuscan Italian villas to English Tudor country style homes.

Many of its works have landed features on Fine Homebuilding, Sunset Magazine, Home Magazine, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Chronicle, Palo Alto Weekly, and The Country Almanac. The firm creates the flow and function of a house, as well as the residence’s exterior aesthetics. 

How can I find a residential architect or home builder near me?

Read our latest articles on the best residential architects and home builders in and near Palo Alto. If you don’t see your city or project type below, just let us know – we are happy to create a tailored recommendation list just for you.

Residential architects in San Mateo and Redwood

Residential architects in Berkeley

Residential architects in Sunnyvale

Custom home builders in Menlo Park

Custom home builders in Redwood City

About Our Rankings

This list takes a range of ranking criteria into consideration, including but not limited to: work history, customer satisfaction, awards and recognition, geographic area of work, cost, building permits, and clientele. We spent over 40 hours researching local contractors before calculating the final ranking for this post. If there is additional information about your business that could affect these rankings, please fill out this form and we will take it into consideration.

Get Bids For Your Build

If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at Home Builder Digest 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 Home Builder Digest, 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