Passerelle Investment Company's Multipurpose Space by Tom Kundig

PROJECT NAME Passerelle Investment Company's Multipurpose Space
LOCATION Los Altos
FIRM Olson Kundig Architects
SQ. FT. 2,500 SQF

Hand cranks are a Tom Kundig signature. He’s designed sculptural versions to operate the doors and windows of houses across the Pacific Northwest as well as the skylight at the Olson Kundig Architects studio in Seattle. Now one of the largest cranks to date has arrived in Los Altos, California. The location is a multipurpose space owned by the Passerelle Investment Company, a real-estate developer that has tapped various architecture firms to remake downtown properties.


The facility—known by its address, 242 State Street—occupies a 1950’s commercial building. Standing taller than the roof, which Kundig raised 7 feet, is a massive steel armature that looks like some kind of art installation. Its I beam actually serves to anchor an exposed system of counterweighted pulleys and gears that, when a foot pedal is unlocked and a hand crank turned, raises the new storefront: a 10-by-16-foot, 2,000-pound object in steel-framed glass. “This is an evolution that explores using relatively small mechanical parts to move large pieces of architecture,” Kundig explains. His other interventions include the steel canopy out front and the stripped and patched concrete floor inside the 2,500-square-foot space.


It recently served as a temporary off-site for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Project Los Altos,” featuring a Spencer Finch artwork based on colors from The Wizard of Oz.

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