San Mateo County Government Center

Redwood City, California, USA

In design

Project Development Unit, County Manager's Office, County of San Mateo

Civic, Office

160,000 sf (building); 3.8 acres (landscape)

Zero Net Energy; targeting LEED Gold


Carving out a hub for creative, accessible local government in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San Mateo County Government Center is a Zero Net Energy (ZNE), flexible workspace that also serves as a vital civic gathering space and resource for a community in the midst of change.

Located on a corner site where the existing government campus meets downtown Redwood City, the new Center capitalizes on the area’s temperate climate to shape a layered building and landscape where County employees and visitors can connect and enjoy the outdoors year-round.

At street level, a green plaza landscape welcomes employees and visitors. With diverse trees and plantings drawn from across the county’s varied ecosystems, it is conceived both as an outdoor lobby for the building and government campus as well as a trailhead that links to the natural wonders of the San Mateo County region beyond. Terracotta tile, a low-carbon material, is used to clad the façade. When encountered from the street, the building’s curving bands of terracotta and glass give it warmth and human scale—connecting this contemporary civic Center with the surrounding neighborhood and recalling its natural history and geology.

To make this vibrant, public ground level possible, the building’s four curving floors of offices and amenities are lifted above the plaza on six sculpted concrete piers. The slender, figure-eight-shaped floorplates allow for open, flexible workspaces with maximum natural light and fresh air; they extend into layered terraces on the interior and exterior that give employees immediate access to the outdoors. Three pavilions set within the heart of the plaza provide citizens with easy access to streamlined county services and unique views into the County’s Board Chambers.

Environmental considerations—including the requirement for Zero Net Energy—are intrinsic to the building’s shape. Its façade is stepped and sculpted using sun angles to maximize daylight for the outdoor public spaces and to provide passive solar shading for the ribbon windows that wrap each floor. Targeting LEED Platinum, the design employs photovoltaic solar panels to offset the building’s energy use and integrates rainwater recycling and natural stormwater management systems to reduce runoff.

Consultant Team

KMD Architects, associate architect

CMG Landscape Architecture, landscape architect

Telamon Engineering Consultants, Inc., civil engineer

Atelier Ten, sustainability consultant

SOHA Engineers, structural engineer

Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural concept

Integral Group, MEP/FP engineer

Smith, Fause & McDonald, Inc., security and A/V consultant

Jensen Hughes, accessibility and code consultant

Papadimos Group, acoustics consultant

Syska Hennessy Group, vertical transportation consultant

TBD Consultants, cost estimator 



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