Belle Haven Willow Business Area Design Charrette

A planning exercise called "Belle Haven / Willow Business Area Design Charrette" was held on Saturday, March 5, 2011. This was a cooperative effort between the American Institute of Architects San Mateo county Chapter and the City of Menlo Park. The event was held at the Facebook East Campus (formerly Sun Microsystems).

The charrette involved 125 volunteer design professionals organized into 4 design teams. Twenty-five architecture students from the University of California at Berkeley, University of Southern California, California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, and San Mateo College were also included.

Starting at 8:00 am, the teams spent the day brainstorming, sketching, and drafting ideas, which coalesced into final designs proposed by each team. The teams presented their final designs to the general public, the other teams, and other guests at the end of the day. The event concluded at 9:00 pm. The interactive process included members of the public, the Menlo Park City Council and appointed boards and commissions which provided comments and suggestions throughout the day.


The goal of the design charrette was to inform and stimulate community dialogue focused on transforming the city's Willow Business Area. Teams were asked to explore possible urban design concepts and to get the public's feedback on their designs. The design teams considered how to improve under-utilized areas of the study area and advanced ideas to enhance linkages to adjacent space.

The teams also had the opportunity to consider how possible changes to the railroad tracks, now under discussion, could be integrated into improving the accessibility and usability of the area. It is our hope that with additional public input, the Council will provide leadership in framing the discussion leading the city toward a shared vision for the Willow Business Area's residential and commercial districts.

Past activities

March 5, 2011 - Belle Haven / Willow Business Area Design Charrette