Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

Business & Real Estate

Steinberg offers insider's view on growth of Silicon Valley

 Image from article Steinberg offers insider

Goodwin Steinberg, congratulations. You've authored a gem that tells about our daily living and it's your contributions that have made it better. It's titled, "From the Ground Up: Building Silicon Valley."

The book is the tale of a young serviceman and his bride who visited the San Francisco Bay Area during World War II. They came back to the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" and helped make it a place of legend and undreamed-of wealth.

"Goody" tells about the dazzling success story that is Silicon Valley -- how and why technology flourished here, who the players were, and how the pieces came together. He takes a behind-the-scenes look at the politics and personalities of the region.

Faced with the inevitable change that comes with an influx of people and a reputation for success, Santa Clara Valley government officials began to chart their future. Would they become bedroom communities, industrial pockets or a combination of both? As a young, fledging architect, Steinberg helped shape a way of life.

In an area blessed with a mild climate and an abundance of breathtaking vistas, architects found a new freedom in designing both residential and commercial buildings that would take advantage of views.

Not limited by the heavy heating and cooling demands of the Midwest, rooms here did not have to be framed by four interior walls to stay warm. Free of concerns about snow loads, balconies were expanded and views from the inside of the house to the garden were exploited.

Using his new architectural philosophy, Steinberg brought new concepts to a spec house in Los Altos Hills in 1952 that he had a hard time selling.

"From the experience came two lessons," Steinberg writes. "Timing can be everything, and sometimes you have to draw the hard line in order to get where you are going."

One of the first homes Steinberg built for a client was for Mr. and Mrs. Larry Dawson, who owned 30 acres of land in Los Altos Hills. They wanted a creative home to fit on a magnificent ridge that had unobstructed views of the bay on one side and the mountains on the other.

Steinberg realized that when architects partnered with landscape designers and craftsmen, the end product could be environmentally sensitive, aesthetically pleasing and very livable.

Another home Steinberg designed was for Bob and Jan Fenwick. Bob is one of the success stories in high-tech electronics. They had 40 acres and wanted something creative, original, aesthetic and fun.

Steinberg's range of buildings is remarkable. He has been the architect for public buildings, business parks, churches, hotels, community centers, libraries, museums and courthouses in addition to the homes of numerous Silicon Valley titans.

"Early in my career I was faced with a choice -- whether to build a national reputation or focus on my own community," Steinberg writes. "After a grueling and exhausting project in Florida, I made my practice one that focuses on building community. They aren't the most lucrative, but the most fulfilling."

Los Altos is Steinberg's community. He has designed the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and, most recently, the Los Altos History Museum. His recent book signing in the garden patio of the history museum was well received by the community thanking him for his contributions.

The book is richly illustrated with 69 color prints of his projects, including some architectural drawings. Susan Wolfe aided in authoring "From the Ground Up: Building Silicon Valley."

The book has just been published by Stanford University Press and is available for $50. It is also available at Amazon.com for $34.97.

Schools »

Read More

Sports »

Read More

People »

Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

Browse and buy photos