Menlo Park,


United States

Sunset Magazine Headquarters


Originally part of a land grant to Don José Arguello, governor of Spanish California in 1815, this seven-acre property served as the Sunset magazine headquarters from 1951 to 2015. The site, bordered to the south by the San Francisquito Creek, was an appropriate location for a publication that was founded in 1898 by the Southern Pacific Railroad to encourage tourism and promote the California lifestyle. 

Constructed in 1951 (with ongoing additions until 1966), architect Cliff May and landscape architect Thomas Church synthesized a corporate version of their celebrated yet sensible postwar suburban gardens. Opened to the public in 1952, the two-winged structure resembles a square doughnut and embodies many of May’s innovations, employing contemporary materials and ideas that aimed to modernize the ranch house without compromising the relaxed, informal, indoor-outdoor qualities. As with other May and Church commissions, the outdoors came inside with ample patio gardens to assist with the seamless transition. 

Helping to meld architecture with landscape architecture, Church designed a biomorphically shaped lawn framed by the office structure and edged by curvilinear, meandering walkways that extend outwards closely following the contours of the creek. In these curving and snaking beds were display gardens representing a distinct western climatic zone, from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California. Existing oaks were protected, including one specimen visible from the lobby.

While the original display gardens have been altered over time, the creek’s northern bank retains its serpentine border, still populated by several original trees and shrubs, including mature oaks that were protected by Church. The headquarters’ structure and numerous landscape features, including the generous lawn edged by paths and the patio gardens, survive. The property was sold in 2015 and is no longer publicly accessible. 

Location and Nearby Landscapes

Nearby Landscapes