SAN JOSE – An “immersive community” of meeting areas, event venues and food centers could emerge in a parking garage in downtown San Jose, based on a concept created by a leading architecture and design firm.
The roof terrace of the San Pedro Square Garage could become a “people deck” and create new activity centers in downtown San Jose, said executives from Gensler, the design firm that came up with the idea.
Roof top garage activities and meeting areas in downtown San Jose in San Pedro Square. // Gensler
“This is a large, underutilized parking deck, and the idea is to turn it into a passenger deck,” said Peter Weingarten, director and general manager of Gensler’s San Jose office.
The multi-story parking garage is located on North San Pedro Street, West St. John Street, and North Market Street and is adjacent to the normally lively restaurant, bar, entertainment, and nightlife of San Pedro Square.
No question about it, the garage acts as a parking lot for busy parts of downtown San Jose. The garage only presents concrete walls on three sides, which also separate San Pedro Square from the main street of Market Street.
“We want to turn this from a barrier to a bridge between Market Street and San Pedro Square,” said Weingarten. “The idea is to transform this space and give it a bigger purpose and create more connectivity.”
The garage could serve as a new “urban bridge” in downtown San Jose, Gensler explained in a 32-page presentation that detailed the concepts and ideas for a redesigned roof terrace.
Street view of San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose, looking south, with the garage on the left, concept. // Gensler
Currently, the rooftop is already being used for a number of activities, particularly with the lack of park trips across the Bay Area and South Bay as one of the side effects of coronavirus-related business shutdowns.
Photo shoots, meetings, films, dancing, playing sports, cycling and just hanging out are among the current activities on the garage roof terrace, according to Gensler.
Part of the parking garage on San Pedro Square on the ground floor has already been revitalized by a project designed by Gensler.
About two years ago, Gensler was the driving force behind Moment, an initiative that spawned four pop-up retailers in parking lots on the San Pedro Square side of the garage.
Social and collection room on San Pedro Square parking garage in downtown San Jose, aerial view, concept. // Gensler
The effort on the roof is referred to by Gensler as “Moment 2.0”.
People could create on the roof, socialize, seek shelter, relax, walk, interact, picnic, walk the dog, play and do sports.
“There has to be a payoff for people when they get on the roof so we can introduce many meaningful and diverse programs. We could have food trucks that create a raised food court,” said Weingarten. “You could have a little theater up there.”
The activated roof would also have different heights in the form of tiny mounds or caves.
“The changes in topography can create excitement and more interest,” said Weingarten. “This allows us to create outdoor spaces that range from calm to more excited.”
Gathering spaces and activities on the San Pedro Square Garage in downtown San Jose, concept. // Gensler
It will cost money to pull this off, so Gensler is hoping to spark some corporate interest to fund the development of the new rooftop as well as ongoing and ongoing bankroll activities.
This concept also fits in with the expanded efforts to gradually activate blocks and sections of downtown San Jose.
“We firmly believe in the future of downtown San Jose,” said Weingarten. “There are amazing destinations that already exist and that are planned for downtown. But there are also uncomfortable gaps between the areas of activity. The location of this garage fills in one of these gaps very nicely. A revitalized roof can be really exciting. “