The seek for the landmark of San Jose is narrowing: Listed here are the three finest finalists

And then there were three.

After years of planning, fundraising and community input, Urban Confluence Silicon Valley has finally named the finalists of its international ideas competition to build a landmark in San Jose that aims to attract tourists from around the world.

Selected from more than 900 entries from 70 countries, 13 experts selected the Nebula Tower by Qinrong Lui, Welcome to Wonderland by Rish Saito and Breeze of Innovation by Fer Jerez as finalists in the design competition. The winner will eventually be built in the Arena Green in Guadalupe River Park in San Jose.

The virtual announcement event, broadcast live on September 18, also served as the 21st century telethon, raising more than $ 830,000 for the cause. Each designer will receive $ 150,000 to develop their project proposals for the remainder of 2020.

The 13-member jury will select a winner in the first quarter of 2021. The proposal is created by the designer, paid for by the philanthropists, and donated to San Jose. The judging panel consists of Jon Cicirelli, director of parks, recreational and neighborhood services for San Jose, and Jodi Starbird, president of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy Board of Directors.

Fog tower

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. This tower, which collapsed more than 100 years ago, was 207 feet tall and adorned with electric lightbulbs that were new on top of such a spacious one.

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.

The Nebula Tower was designed by Qinrong Lui. Image courtesy of UCSV.

Welcome to wonderland

Saito is also a graduate who just 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 fueled Silicon Valley’s spirit of innovation, “the project description reads.

Welcome to Wonderland is a finalist in the Urban Confluence Silicon Valley ideas competition. 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.”

“The conical void allows people to enjoy an extraordinary vertical space while using the different floors of the tower,” says the project description.

Breeze of Innovation, designed by FerJerez, is a finalist in a design competition to create a landmark in San Jose. Image courtesy of UCSV.

Last summer, a group of philanthropists from Silicon Valley announced a competition to build a landmark for the region’s innovative spirit.

“From the start, we were looking for something that was durable and not trendy,” said Jon Ball, who represents the San Jose Light Tower Corporation on the jury. “It has to be timeless so that it won’t be out of date or feel out of date in a few years or decades.”

The competition received more than 960 entries from around the world. Each juror reviewed at least 500 submissions, and the majority of the panel reviewed more than 90 percent of all submissions.

Steve Borkenhagen, Executive Director of Urban Confluence, told San José Spotlight last year that the landmark will be a source of civic pride, which is sorely lacking and is noticeable in many other ways due to its absence in a place with an oversized ego.

“Silicon Valley has great self-esteem in certain areas,” said Borkenhagen. “Intellectually and technologically, but we don’t have a place where people feel the awe that these great icons and landmarks have. That was our original motivation. “

Ball said the jury wanted the landmark to be “something that reflects our values ​​as a society and is memorable in appearance so that it can be recognized as a symbol of Silicon Valley and San Jose.”

However, the nonprofit is not looking for an artistic take on the tech industry.

“We’re in Silicon Valley, but we don’t want this to be an homage to the microchip or the bro culture or the coding or anything,” said Borkenhagen.

Lawmakers such as Councilor Raul Peralez, Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Regulators Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez praised the project during Friday’s live unveiling event, saying it would attract visitors from around the world and create new downtown opportunities from San Jose open.

A final design will be selected in 2021 and it can take up to three more years to complete.

Contact Adam F. Hutton at [email protected] or follow @adamfhutton on Twitter.

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