Google shares the imaginative and prescient of a spacious, sustainable “Downtown West” in San Jose
Google has revealed a number of new details and key visuals for its plans to convert 80 acres of land in San Jose, California into a new corporate campus called Downtown West. And although the project, with urban studio SITELAB serving as the lead urban planner, has the usual hallmarks of a Silicon Valley tech giant looking to nest (an overarching focus on sustainability and the involvement of several architecture and landscape architecture firms involved in this Case) These include Grimshaw Architects, the Heatherwick Studio, SHoP, Kohn Pedersen Fox, West 8, Fougeron Architecture, SCB and others with a considerable amount of space (more than half) devoted to public open spaces and parklands, residential buildings and other uses not related to Google are intended. Google’s new campus, headquartered in Mountain View, is not even a campus in itself, but a new neighborhood developed in partnership with the City of San Jose, where the company happens to be the main commercial tenant.
“You are not building an isolated spaceship that turns your back on the community. They build it to fit in San Jose, ”Scott Knies of the San Jose Downtown Association told CBS subsidiary KPIX 5 in the Bay Area after a 473-page design standards and guidelines document was published by SITELAB was that outlines Google’s vision – and note the not-so-subtle dig of Apple’s Cupertino connection. According to KPIX 5, more than 2,000 pages with project-related documents, including the “Design Standards and Guidelines” deck, have now been made publicly available. This 39-minute video with Alexa Arena, Google’s district leader for San Jose, provides an easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive, summary of Google’s plans.
Even so, the Downtown West project, dubbed “mixed-use, inclusive, and San Jose” by Google, still requires a tremendous amount of corporate office space: a total of 7.3 million square feet to accommodate an estimated 25,000 Google employees spread across the new one , transit-oriented enclave adjacent to the city center. But that includes half a million square feet for retail and restaurants, as well as art and cultural venues and non-profit organizations. 100,000 square feet of event and hospitality space, including a large hotel and temporary corporate housing, plus 4,000 (up to 5,900) new residential units, a decent portion of which was rated affordable.
“Downtown West should be a real part of the city – the opposite of a traditional company campus. Our team worked with Google to take advantage of the uniqueness of the location and propose a place where urban life and nature can coexist, ”said Laura Crescimano, founder of urban studio SITELAB, in a statement. “We have brought together new and historical buildings, opportunities for art and culture, playful spaces and moments of calm along the stream. The draft design standards and guidelines published today contain the roadmap for a resilient and connected inner city in West. “
Creekside Walk in Downtown West (Google)
Understandably, Google focuses on directing much of its initial attention to the “social infrastructure goals” embedded in the ambitious project, and invites members of the San Jose community to share their thoughts on these elements early on Share development phase. Feedback and public input will help inform the final design of the campus, and the project could be submitted to the San Jose Council as early as the spring of 2021. Landlease, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, is acting as the development consultant for the project.
Suggested features include a central space area called The Gateway, which serves as a kind of dynamic public space for both Google employees and the larger community. The Gateway, an “immersive learning exchange,” centered around the iconic old building of the San Jose Water Company, would host a wide range of programs and events, and possibly include an amphitheater. Another element, the 1.5 hectare Creekside Walk, would serve as a “city-nature connection” next to the VTA light rail corridor. The Meander, a third public space that is being pepped up by Google, is intended as an “urban promenade” that acts as a “bridge between natural and more civic, more active areas” and has a large communal lawn and focuses on outdoor programming.
The Meander in Downtown West (Courtesy Google)
Google also stresses the environmental impact of the project. While cars are not entirely banned on campus, much of the development will be easily accessible on foot or by bike, and almost all of the over two dozen new buildings in the neighborhood will rely on solar and other renewable energies. As Arena explains in detail in the video overview of the video on design standards and guidelines, the campus focuses on an open space network that is “heavily based on ecological history and the desire of people to have access to nature in our center as well have cities. Arena added, “We think this is extremely important in helping people lead healthy and resilient lives.”
For more information, visit the City of San Jose Google Project landing page, which acts as a sort of clearinghouse for anything and everything related to the project, including the latest sheet sets and documents.