In Menlo Park, the Bal Residence

People / Places / December 22, 2011

On the same street in Menlo Park where Google was once born in a garage, where the Stanford crowd hangs, lies the Bal Residence by Terry & Terry Architecture.

It was designed for a pair of 70-somethings who are avid gardeners.  The focus, naturally enough, was on the back yard.

“The challenge was to make it as nice for their needs as well as their hobbies,” says Alex Terry.  “We had to find ways to connect the garden to the house.

The two architects, brothers and partners in the firm since 1995, faced the limitations of a deep and narrow lot, 200 feet deep and 50 feet wide.  They placed the kitchen to the rear of the house and aligned the common area there too, then opened it all up with transparent walls.  Ramps offer easy access to the garden, where the clients grow their tomatoes, eggplant, beans, citrus and apricots.

“We shifted the common area to get southern exposure, and created a crevice in the middle to bring the garden into the house,” he says. “It’s a connection with the outdoors, and it gets light into the interior spaces.”

Inspired by the geography and an ideal climate where winters are not too cold and summers aren’t too hot, the 3,000 square-foot, three-bedroom home is a portal into another world, where the harvest is the focal point of life.

For more on Terry &Terry Architecture, go to

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Mike Welton

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