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Draper University Faces Pushback Against Proposed Building Plans


Draper University, located in a historical building in California’s San Mateo Downtown Historic District, planned to convert its top three floors from dormitories to offices. However, the institution is now facing stiff opposition from the San Mateo Planning Commission. 

The building which houses Draper was built in 1926 and operated as the Benjamin Franklin Hotel until 2003. The Planning Commission believes revamping the building’s architecture will redefine the building’s character. 

Commissioner John Ebneter informed The San Mateo Daily Journal that he did not support modifications to historic buildings, no matter how minor they were. “I think it takes away from the property, and I don’t think it can ever be gained back,” he said.

Mixed Responses

Draper University wants to add an elevator and a staircase enclosure while redoing the top three floors of the building. The remaining floors, used for Draper’s entrepreneur programs, would stay the same.

While most commissioners have objected to the modifications, some want more details and clarity on the proposed changes. 

For example, Commissioner Margaret Williams was supportive of the overall design proposed by Draper but wanted the university to replace the proposed glazing of the elevator with stucco. “If we have a building that’s eligible for historic preservation, I think we need to maintain that,” she said.

The university presented its plans to the San Mateo Planning Commission during last week’s meeting. Another meeting has been scheduled to further discuss the project.

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