The final phase of Shawmut’s renovation to Nobu Hotel Palo Alto, the Nobu Palo Alto Garden Restaurant is a 4,100 square-foot Japanese-inspired garden, spearheaded by renowned landscape designer Shigeru Namba and Montalba Architects.

Aimed at creating harmonious transitions between Nobu Hotel Palo Alto and a neighboring historic storefront, the Nobu Palo Alto Garden Restaurant creates an outdoor extension of the Nobu restaurant and an unparalleled event venue in downtown Palo Alto. There’s dining room seating for 30—under a full-room skylight and with fully retractable glass doors—and outdoor banquette seating for 24—with a retractable awning for sun shading—as well as reception capacity for 60 guests.

A visual bridge between the hotel and surrounding neighborhood, the garden can be seen from the street, the hotel lobby, and hotel conference rooms. Glass doors framed by limestone columns provide an uninterrupted view of the garden from the lobby lounge. A distinct bronze canopy, inspired by the Japanese Shoji Screen, marks the transition from the hotel to the restaurant.

Guests are welcomed to the garden through the hotel lobby, walking among the flora before arriving at their tables. Large-format stone tiles extend from the interior into the patio, creating a sense of unity.

Every table is positioned for guests to enjoy an authentic Japanese garden experience. Specially-selected boulders from Japan were individually and sculpturally positioned by Shigeru Namba to enhance the spatial qualities of the garden, while native, drought-tolerant ground cover with Japanese-inspired specimen plantings accent the garden.

The lush garden space is sustainably designed to improve air quality, support pollinators, and mitigate urban heat island effect. The structure creates natural ventilation through bi-fold doors and gravity ventilators, enhancing airflow and reducing the need for artificial climate control.

The retractable fabric coverings shelter dining areas from sun and rain, and double as sun protection for non-native plantings, reducing irrigation needs and evaporation from the soil in warm conditions. Shallow retention basins in the garden percolate storm water through the soil, avoiding excess discharge to the street. The climate is further regulated by a radiant floor powered by recycled heat from kitchen equipment and the water heater.

The new garden restaurant is on an adjacent lot to Nobu Hotel Palo Alto, directly behind the hotel and connected to it at three different points. The Shawmut team coordinated extensively with the hotel operations team while constructing the new two-story restaurant and garden to ensure there was no interruption to daily activities and guest service. Clear communication and coordination with the neighbors were also required as cranes were used to set the boulders and some trees.

The result: a peaceful respite and immersive dining experience in the heart of Silicon Valley.