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Competition: San Jose landmark, California

Contest site: San Jose landmark, California
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The San Jose Light Tower Corporation has launched an international ideas contest for a new landmark structure in Silicon Valley

Open to architects, urban planners, students, designers, and engineers, the two-stage Urban Confluence Silicon Valley competition seeks proposals for an iconic net-zero energy building reflecting the ‘breathless sense of possibility’ of the region which defined modern computing.

The project – inspired by landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao – will create a centrepiece for the district while also protecting and celebrating its natural landscape. Three finalists will each receive $150,000 to refine their concepts.

In its brief, the corporation says: ‘The competition is open; the desires are clear. The only requirement is passion to create a must-see landmark that will enhance community life in America’s 10th largest city while reflecting the extraordinary legacy of this remarkable global centre of life-changing thought.

‘The competition seeks a transformative design complete with dramatic lighting, a net-zero energy approach, and an impressive physical presence that will become a powerful and enduring symbol of how Silicon Valley operates as a bridge from past to present to future. Urban Confluence Silicon Valley can be a structure, an object, a sculpture, a work of architecture—with an activated landscape enjoyed both day and night.’

San Jose is the economic centre of Silicon Valley, a region of California which has played a pioneering role in computing and social media over recent decades. Foster + Partners completed a Californian HQ for technology giant Apple in the area two years ago although generally the area is not renowned for the impact of its architecture.

The free-to-enter competition, organised by the not-for-profit San Jose Light Tower Corporation, was inspired by the historic 1881 San José Electric Light Tower landmark which collapsed following a storm in 1915.

It focuses on a 5.8ha site known as Arena Green within the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens in central San Jose. Proposals will be expected to respect the ecology of the site and nearby watercourses.

Initial applications should include a short written explanation and two conceptual images. Judges will include San José Light Tower Corporation chair Jon Ball; Jodi Starbird, president of the board of directors at the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy; and Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao.

Around 50 longlisted entries will feature in a public exhibition in November prior to the selection of the three finalist teams. An overall winner will be announced in May 2020.

The deadline for application has been extended to 1pm local time, 15 January.

How to apply

View the competition website for more information

Contact details

San Jose Light Tower Corporation
160 West Santa Clara Street
Suite 900
San Jose
CA 95113

Tel: 408-813-5984
Email: competition@urbanconfluencesiliconvalley.org 

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