Castilleja Reimagined

A Campus for the Future

Castilleja School was founded in 1907 in Palo Alto to equalize educational opportunities for women. Classrooms haven’t been renovated since the 1960s, which is why we are proposing plans for a modernized campus that meets the educational needs of the 21st century. After nearly a decade working with our neighbors, the Palo Alto community, and City officials, Castilleja is proud of this proposal, which improves the neighborhood feel: moves street parking below ground; opens educational opportunities to more women; and modernizes the campus. 

On Monday, May 23, Palo Alto City Council is expected to cast a final vote on our proposal. The hearing begins at 5:00pm at City Hall.

Send a letter of support to Palo Alto City Council at

More Opportunity. Less Traffic. Why Not?

Project Highlights

Removes Cars from Streets

Improves the neighborhood feel by moving parking on to campus and below ground

Modernized Learning Spaces

Replaces outdated buildings as other schools in Palo Alto have done

No New Car Trips

Enhances the school’s successful traffic reduction program to ensure no net new car trips

Educates More Girls

Creates more opportunities for girls seeking a single-sex education without increasing car trips

Protects Trees

Preserves historic trees and adds over 100 new trees to campus

Model for Sustainability

Surpasses ambitious local and state sustainability benchmarks with a net-zero campus 

Project Timeline



  • Castilleja holds 26 neighbor and community meetings facilitated by a professional mediator to help shape the school’s Master Plan. The City of Palo Alto holds a public scoping meeting to determine areas of study for the Environmental Impact Report, and provides neighbors and Palo Alto residents with opportunity to offer oral and written feedback.

  • By November 2015, Castilleja was prepared to submit CUP/Master Plan application but put on hold at City Staff request in order to study entering and exiting campus from Embarcadero which was subsequently determined unfeasible.


  • Castilleja holds eight additional facilitated neighbor and community meetings, and the school submits its Initial CUP / Master Plan application to the City of Palo Alto.



  • Castilleja holds seven additional facilitated neighbor and community meetings, and the City of Palo Alto continues its environmental study. In response to feedback from the neighborhood, Castilleja makes amendments to the project, including relocating the parking exit.


  • Castilleja holds seven additional facilitated neighbor and community meetings.

  • The City Staff requests a variance application be submitted to support retention of existing square footage as approved previously by the City. Castilleja complied and applied for a variance.

  • In response to feedback from City Staff regarding trees and the variance requirement, the school submits new project plans to the City of Palo Alto, adjusting its footprint to retain more trees and bringing the recessed Circle up to grade.




  • In response to preliminary feedback from City staff and the community, the school submits a revised plan to the City of Palo Alto that refines its building design to reduce massing and better blend with the neighborhood aesthetic.

  • The City of Palo Alto releases a Draft Environmental Review (DEIR) document, and opens a public comment period to provide Palo Altans the opportunity for public testimony and written comments on the DEIR findings.


  • In order to eliminate environmental impacts identified in the DEIR, Castilleja makes additional revisions to its plans to reduce underground parking, conserve additional trees, preserve housing, and distribute vehicle trips. (Alternative #4 in FEIR)

  • The City incorporates public comments and Castilleja’s newly developed plan, conducts additional study, and releases its Final Environmental Review (FEIR) document, which finds that Castilleja’s project Alternative #4, with mitigations, will not cause any significant or unavoidable impacts to the community.

  • The HRB, ARB, and PTC hold public meetings to discuss the school’s FEIR and CUP. In response to ARB feedback, Castilleja resubmits plans with significant modifications to the building exterior including reduced massing on Kellogg and Bryant and updated materials throughout.

  • The PTC and ARB send the project to City Council with recommendations to approve. 



  • The City Council holds a series of hearings to review and discuss the project and provides suggestions for review of potential modifications in the form of a motion. 

  • In response to the City Council’s motion, Castilleja:

    • submits new building design that eliminates 1,830 square feet in order to bring the total above grade square footage in line with permitted square feet.

    • re-studies the trees on campus and reevaluates the tree protection zones for each tree to ensure compliance.

    • revises and expands upon its transportation demand management plan.

    • conducts a parking demand study.

    • submits five alternative underground parking configurations and a parking adjustment request.

    • develops a modified site plan that shifts the pool further away from tree #89 and eliminates the below grade delivery bay in order to retain tree #155.