New downtown landmark faces the San Jose City Council

May 3, 2021

San Jose’s new landmark faces another hurdle before construction: approval by the city council.

Council members will finally approve “The Breeze of Innovation,” a project that won an international competition launched in 2019 for a new landmark in Arena Green at the southern tip of Guadalupe River Park, where the river meets Los Gatos Creek .

Fernando Jerez, Director of SMAR Architecture Studio with offices in Australia and Spain, designed the proposed landmark.

The Breeze of Innovation is privately funded by Urban Confluence Silicon Valley, a nonprofit that has raised funds through donations from local residents and businesses and made donations to San Jose. To date, the group has raised $ 2.2 million for the project. However, estimates, including some by the organization’s executive director Steve Borkenhagen, put the final price tag in excess of $ 100 million. How proponents intend to raise the remaining over $ 90 million is still unclear, leaving some residents questioning the necessity of the project.

“Imagine how far these resources could go if our city guides instead … looked for millions of dollars in donations for art in our city and got local youth to work on things like murals,” wrote Dave Poeschel in a letter to the city council.

The Breeze of Innovation, the future landmark of San Jose, will consist of hundreds of rods that generate electricity and light up at night. Photo courtesy Urban Confluence of Silicon Valley.

The breeze of innovation consists of 500 flexible poles, each 200 feet high, swaying in the wind. The energy generated by the movement is used to power the building and light the sticks at night. According to SMAR Architecture Studio, the project is intended to honor the region’s technicians while promoting more environmentally friendly technologies.

“This project does not intend to solve climate change, but we believe that large public projects could serve to send a message; a world of clean energy is entirely possible,” the architecture firm said in a statement.

But environmentalists are strongly against the project, calling it “light pollution” in the city center and questioning its effects on birds and surrounding plants. Many have fought against it, including a recent San José Spotlight.

The Loma Prieta Chapter of the local Sierra Club sent an email Monday calling on supporters to write letters against the project ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting.

“The structure is illuminated at night by light that is visible throughout the city,” the email said. “The latest Sierra Club Policy highlights the unmistakable damage that artificial light causes at night to all organisms, ecosystems and human health. This project is wrong for the 21st century, wrong for the creek and wrong for San Jose.”

The landmark will include an observation deck that, according to a city presentation, offers a 360-degree view of San Jose as well as exhibition space and space for a café. It knocked out nearly 1,000 other submissions, including a color-changing structure in the shape of a California grizzly bear, a cloud-themed museum, and a 200-foot-long Gateway Arch-like structure called “The Caterpillar”.

“Now is the time to encourage the citizens of San Jose to immerse themselves in an iconic and globally recognized art symbol that visually defines our city,” said resident Tom Coombs, who believes the project will be a cultural icon for the people Downtown of the city will be.

In September, Urban Confluence Silicon Valley announced three finalists for a live fundraiser.

The location of the project near the Guadalupe River has been controversial as it is home to hundreds of homeless people. Homeless camps have littered the river since the 1980s, according to some unhodged proponents.

“This has never been seen before,” said housing attorney Sandy Perry of the camps on the Guadalupe River. “The number of out-of-home people has just exploded from a few hundred to thousands.”

The project’s community task force, which includes former newspaper publisher David E. Cohen, said research conducted by the group shows the environmental impact is small.

“The unprecedented reach and transparency of the community every step of the way can only be commended,” Cohen wrote in a letter. “From ecological and geographical concerns to the exclusively private financing of the legendary company, one can only marvel at the depth of the commitment of all those involved.”

If the city council approves the project on Tuesday, the developers and the city will create a construction schedule.

You can follow the city council meeting on the city’s YouTube page or on Zoom by following this guide. The city council meets every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. For more information on how to watch and attend city council meetings, please visit here.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

San José Spotlight is the city’s first not-for-profit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting. Please support our public service journalism by clicking here.

Comments are closed.