Three years ago, a group of San Jose philanthropists who wanted to build a world-class landmark downtown and donate to the city began with the idea of building a light tower in Plaza de Cesar Chavez – a 21st century update on San Jose’s original icon. A 237 foot structure adorned with new electric light bulbs built in 1881.
A lot has changed since 2017.
Urban Confluence Silicon Valley will keep the public updated on the landmark project in upcoming webinars and discuss what will happen over the next six months – before and after a winner is selected.
The webinars for attendees to register will be hosted on November 16 and December 1 at 10 a.m. through Zoom.
The original tower idea was subordinated in favor of an international ideas competition. The project was relocated to Arena Green at the southern tip of Guadalupe River Park, where the river meets Los Gatos Creek, and the San Jose Light Tower Corporation has been renamed Urban Confluence Silicon Valley.
These changes were made in the earliest part of the planning phase. Since then, UCSV has asked the community for input and has appointed a jury of experts to judge the competition, which received nearly 1,000 entries from around the world. In September, the organization announced the three finalists in a dazzling live fundraiser.
Welcome to Wonderland was designed by Rish Saito. Image courtesy of UCSV.
Next year Urban Confluence will convene the jury again and announce a winner.
Each finalist is currently conducting a series of feasibility studies to refine drafts of concepts into something that can be built. The hour-long webinars include an explanation of what these studies involve and what will happen after the finalists submit their final designs.
Welcome to wonderland
Rish Saito recently completed a Masters Degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His entry Welcome to Wonderland is inspired by the novels of Lewis Carroll.
His project consists of a massive container – 700 feet long, 200 feet high, and 100 feet wide – filled with giant white fiberglass flowers onto which light and images can be projected.
It also includes space for people who feel like they have shrunk to the size of a bee or a butterfly, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
“While Silicon Valley and San Jose are known for their technological advances, Welcome to Wonderland celebrates the idea that it was through imagination and wonder that advanced Silicon Valley’s spirit of innovation,” the project description reads.
Qinrong Lui recently completed his master’s thesis at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Lui was inspired for the Nebula Tower by San Jose’s original icon, the electric light tower built in 1881.
The design places a “neutral cube with (a) vaguely defined border” in the Green West arena. The cube is 180 feet long and consists of a lattice grate with a hollow tower embedded in it as per the project description.
During the day, the grid and the nebulous figure of the tower offer changing images from different perspectives. At night, the tower appears faint with visual shapes within the lattice.
Breeze of Innovation was designed by Fer Jerez. Image courtesy of UCSV.
Breeze of innovation
Fernando Jerez, the director of SMAR Architecture Studio with offices in Australia and Spain, designed Breeze of Innovation.
It consists of 500 flexible poles, each 200 feet high, that sway in the wind. The energy generated by this movement is used to power the building. According to the proposal, “the hundreds of wands represent the hundreds of different companies and individuals working together in Silicon Valley.”
Contact Adam F. Hutton at [email protected] or follow @adamfhutton on Twitter.