Project Spotlight: 221 Mathilda Shell / 23andMe Interior Build-out

Well-known biotech company 23andMe offers DNA genetic testing in order to connect people to their family trees. Their new headquarters, Grove 221 in Sunnyvale, California, just so happens to also reference trees: the name pays homage to the area’s rich history of fruit growing, and the site formerly housed a nursery and orchard. A bygone nearby fruit cannery also contributes to the area’s verdant and industrious reputation.

Situated at 221 North Mathilda Avenue in Silicon Valley — a continuous hotbed of innovation and expansion — Grove 221 provides easy access to the Caltrain, as well as the area’s bustling commerce and industrious neighbors. Spear Street Capital was the site’s original developer, and South Bay Construction was brought onto the project during the pre-construction phase thanks to a previous working relationship on the recently completed StadiumTech Center. SBC was contracted to undertake the Grove 221 shell.

When the building was leased to 23andMe, SBC successfully bid on the project in order to provide a seamless transition from shell construction to tenant improvement. The 23andMe vision for the site was a place where employees and the public alike could gather in a stunning environment that retained the area’s history while granting its modern tenants room to reap the fruits of their labor.

A Modern Office Complex That Pays Tribute To Heritage

With the Grove 221 project, we knew we had a big responsibility: to ensure that all tenant improvements kept pace with the area’s reputation for innovative builds. The most notable feature of the three-story, 155,000-square-foot office complex was a custom laminated glass art wall by Stephen Galloway. Acting as a façade to the building’s street-facing exterior, the artwork features a line of two-story-tall trees that reference the building’s historical surroundings. The glass wall cantilevers off the building’s superstructure, through a dark “Starphire” curtain wall. In order to install the piece, South Bay Construction coordinated several prefabricated assemblies a year prior to installation. When the steel, aluminum, and glass arrived on site, they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, providing the proper support to the 2,000-square-foot art wall. The installation was a success, providing the campus with a strong anchoring visual that met all the necessary requirements for ensuring the exterior stayed waterproof and airtight.

In order to complement the strong statement made by the building’s exterior, the interior space, designed by Arc Tec, provides similar levels of esthetic value. Floor-to-ceiling windows echo the glass art wall while creating wide sections of visibility. A spacious, industrial warehouse vibe runs throughout the office. Tenants have access to perks including a deck and private courtyard with an outdoor kitchen, a patio, in-house bike storage, and repair space, lockers and showers for cyclists and other athletes, and plenty of open public spaces. A five-level open parking garage provides space for 478 vehicles and guarantees easy access for tenants and visitors alike.

A Historical Renovation That Offers Relaxation

The campus contained a second opportunity for preserving history while introducing modern accents: a 100-year-old farmhouse on the site had been designated a historic building and needed to be restored as part of the project. Restorations would need to meet the criteria of the U.S. Department of the Interior Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties. The solution? The 1,200-square-foot farmhouse was relocated on-site and redesigned for use as a casual bar and lounge for employees. The building’s exterior retained all of its historic architectural intent, while the interior received structural, mechanical, and electrical upgrades. South Bay Construction incorporated clean, flexible finishes that outfitted 23andMe’s unique flex space for multiple uses.

In keeping with the meandering paths of the site’s former orchards, the campus also includes a 10,000-square-foot public park. Walking paths, benches, and two concrete ping pong tables are fully available to the public. Anchoring the park is a crepe myrtle orchard for everyone’s enjoyment.

Sold to developer Stockbridge Capital Group for $188 million, Grove 221 meets LEED-NC Platinum certification and incorporates several sustainable design features. The solar shading, water conservation fixtures, and energy-efficient systems all demonstrate a commitment to the environment. These features ensure that 23andMe and its tenants can work, relax, and socialize in the same green tradition established by the site’s original orchards: in a place of growth, harmonious work, and community.

Client: Spear Street Capital
CM: Ingram & Associates, Inc.
Architect: SmithGroup

South Bay Construction’s commitment to strong relationships, reliable work, and use of cutting edge technology makes it a leader in the construction industry space. For over forty years, we’ve worked with clients to complete projects that are on time and on budget. Interested in partnering with SBC? Please contact us to learn more or to receive a free quote online

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