California’s high-end car dealerships tend to all look the same. Full of glass, steel, and bravado, they’re more about wealth and ambition than architectural innovation. But things had to be different for a Palo Alto dealership selling McLarens as well as Fiskers, California-based manufacturers of plug-in hybrid vehicles whose sleek designs give Tesla a run for its money.
Owner Adam Simms asked Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates to design two striking showrooms that show off the dealership’s cars with a variety of materials more likely to be found in a contemporary house or art gallery: layers of transparent polycarbonate soffit panels, polished concrete floors, aluminum-clad fascia; exposed steel beams, sustainably harvested wood panels, and gray porcelain floor tiles. The McLaren showroom has a circular glass enclosure shielded by a large roof overhang. Fisker’s rectangular building opens up to the outdoors via large sliding panels.
Eighty percent of the construction materials can be recycled, a rare nod to eco-friendliness in an industry that leaves its showroom lights on 24 hours a day. The project is designed to achieve the equivalent of a LEED Silver rating, required by the city of Palo Alto.