Imagine it in Silicon Valley.
That’s the message from Urban Confluence Silicon Valley, as the nonprofit has a mission to honor the history and reputation of San Jose for technology and innovation by creating a landmark in the country’s tenth largest city.
The group launched an international design competition last summer to solicit ideas from the community.
Dozens of residents and hopefuls of the competition stopped by Arena Green, the future landmark location in downtown San Jose, to tour the local community on Sunday. The afternoon was marked by discussions about the possibilities and rules and regulations of orientation points.
According to Steve Borkenhagen, Executive Director of Urban Confluence, the dream is to create a landmark that would be the highlight of San Jose’s future Central Park.
“We’re trying to build something beautiful that we can all enjoy forever,” Borkenhagen told San José Spotlight. “We’re only doing this to improve the quality of life for you, me, and everyone else in the world, especially the people of San Jose and Silicon Valley.”
The project organizers have worked hard to make sure all voices are heard and every design is judged on an equal footing, said Borkenhagen. All entries are anonymous, and the juries and panels that oversee these entries are made up of everyone from community members to local officials.
“This is a gift to the community,” said Borkenhagen. “We want the community, in the broadest sense, to be involved in everything we do, and we’ve been doing that from the start.”
So far, the competition has received over a hundred completed applications, and many more are in progress, added Borkenhagen. All project proposals are due by April 3rd.
A competitive Jaime Valenzuela attended the tour with his fiancée Brenda, who was there for “moral support”. For Valenzuela, a 12-year-old architectural designer from Redwood City, Urban Confluence’s competition could lead to a project of a lifetime.
“Ultimately, you are trying to create something that will become an icon,” said 37-year-old Valenzuela. “To be part of such a project is a dream project for any architect or designer.”
San Jose is a true “melting pot” of culture and technology, Valenzuela continued, and a landmark will clearly speak for what the city is about. Valenzuela declined to share his idea as his design would no longer be anonymous as the competition guidelines dictate.
Glenn Brown, another participant and real estate developer, said he wanted our design to “reflect our differences” and represent “where we come together”. Brown was also unable to discuss his submission.
“I would like to see something that humanity recognizes, not just one culture or one sect – everyone,” said Brown, 56.
Brown said the possibilities are limitless given the landmark’s proximity to SAP and the future Google campus.
“This will be the heartbeat of the collaborative community of San Jose,” Brown told San Jose Spotlight. “How does it look? I’m not sure. But it should be big. “
Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association, said San Jose has the potential to be a tourist destination because it is close to other Bay Area power plants like Berkeley and San Francisco. He and other boosters in the city center hope that a landmark can lure visitors, tourists and residents to the urban core of the city – similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Space Needle in Seattle or The Bean in Heart of chicago.
The Urban Confluence project would “anchor” the visitor experience in San Jose, added Knies, and would give the local business a huge boost.
“These kinds of symbols of the city often become tourist attractions and visitor experiences, and that ultimately helps the nearby business community, whether people involve them when their in-laws are visiting on vacation or whether they are in town for a conference or meeting “Said Knies.
San Jose has not had a “vibrant” downtown area for a long time and a landmark is overdue, said Lisa Ruder, a San Jose resident of the Site Tour. Ruder is recently a volunteer with the city’s heritage conservation office.
“San Jose had the electric light tower that was a monument, something that defined the city, and I think it doesn’t have that anymore,” said Ruder. “People think of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bean in Chicago or the St. Louis Arch. We don’t have that. “
The selection of three finalists will be announced in early May. Each finalist receives a grant of US $ 150,000 to finalize their idea or to involve staff. The final winner will be announced this summer.
Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.