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The History Behind the Design

Picture of the Thinker Statue

In 1967 the City of Sunnyvale was starting to up fill up. Most of the single family land was accounted for and had been built on. At this time however, there was still land available in what the City called it's R2 zoning districts. This was land that mostly bordered major thoroughfares. In 1967 what was commonly built on R2 zoning was duplexes. At this time, the demand for duplexes was low hence the available land.

Donald J. Bahl saw this availability of land and saw an opportunity for a new design. He went to San Juan Capistrano to see a new type of house. They were calling it a Patio House. He met with the Architects Robert Jones and Edwin Hom. Together they came up with The Bahl Patio Home. The design won an American Institute of Architect National "Award of Merit".

This was a new design concept for the City. The 1st Patio Homes were approved on a 4-3 vote by the City Counsel. One of the City Counsel member voiced his opinion after the vote and said, "Well we have just created an instant slum in Sunnyvale".

The Next evolution of design came when Donald J. Bahl decided to build some of the first townhouse in Sunnyvale based on the Patio Home design. This was done in 1971. You can see from this old tract map that the area where the Cluster Homes are built was originally intended to be Patio Homes. The reason this was done was because even in 1971 home prices were starting to get out of reach for most people.

People loved the Patio Homes but wanted more square footage. So Donald J. Bahl and team design a 2100 s.f. patio home in Mountain View.

Here is an interesting side note about the planning process in Sunnyvale. None of the 5 Patio home projects which went through the City of Sunnyvale were approved unanimously. They were all split decision by the City Counsel. In Fact, the City staff and Planning Commissions recommended denial for all 5 projects.