Sunset Headquarters' Future

New owner says iconic Cliff May-designed building and its gardens will be preserved
Sunset Featured Flash
The future of Sunset's Cliff-May designed building (pictured here) is uncertain following 2015. The magazine’s rise in popularity in the postwar era is the subject of a new CA-Modern article, 'Bible of the West.' (photos: Dave Weinstein)

Sunset magazine, which has promoted modern living in modern homes for six decades, is vacating its own modern home—but the new owner says its historical integrity will be retained.

"We are going to treat this project with tender and loving care," says John Hamilton, principal partner in Embarcadero Capital Partners, which bought the Menlo Park headquarters from Time Inc. in December. The company will own the property and lease it for offices or research and development.

Sunset will continue to publish—but from somewhere else in the Bay Area. It will remain onsite through the end of 2015 at its main building, 80 Willow Road, and at its secondary building, 85 Willow Road, through July.

Throughout the 1940s and ensuing decades, Sunset trumpeted in homes the very qualities that people today still love in Eichler homes—openness, glass walls, plentiful light, family rooms and informal living. Sunset's rise in popularity in the postwar era is the subject of a new article, 'Bible of the West,' published this week in the new winter '15 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

Designed by Cliff May (buildings) in collaboration with Thomas Church (landscape) in 1950, the Sunset campus represents everything the magazine wrote about—casual living, open to the out-of-doors, an easygoing melding of mid-century modern with Spanish Colonial ranch.

Sunset Featured Flash

Preservationists, including Nancy Runyon, who serves on the board of the Alliance of Monterey Area Preservationists and was formerly on the board of Palo Alto Stanford Heritage, worried about the future of the seven-acre site.

"It looks like the company that purchased the Sunset HQ sometimes leases their properties. We can only hope they will try to lease rather than redevelop it," she said, before it was learned that was exactly what Embarcadero Partners planned to do.

"The Cliff May-Thomas Church-designed headquarters is a remarkable, early, precedent-setting example of the garden-oriented corporate campus," says Dan Gregory, a former, longtime Sunset editor. "It's also one of the first examples of true environmental design in Northern California. It also influenced the look and feel of Menlo Park itself."

May, one of the inventors of the ranch-style house, was a modernist who blended open plans and even open-to-the-air roofs with indoor-outdoor living. Tommy Church, one of the inventors of