Google isn’t exactly a name you associate with urban planning, but newly released renders for its San Jose campus are… pleasantly surprising. Unlike the typical closed-off tech campuses, the Downtown West project looks like an open plan neighborhood that’s actually part of the city itself.
In a roughly 40-minute video presentation, Google explained that it wasn’t interested in building a cookie-cutter campus that centered around a single building. Instead, it says it wants the roughly 80-acre campus to include residential spaces, amenities for the public, lots of open green space, and utilize existing historic buildings in the area. This is counter to some major campuses—like the Apple campus which is a feat of architecture hidden from public view by tall walls, or the campuses of HP or Microsoft, which are relatively remote despite being close to major population areas.
In its announcement blog, Google highlighted some early-stage illustrations for a few of the key concept areas. For example, “The Gateway” (which is the top photo for this blog) is meant to be a 0.75-acre open space that integrates the San Jose Water Company Building and surrounding residential neighborhoods. The idea is for it to be a “flexible plaza for temporary pop-up programming and events,” and include amenities like an amphitheater that’s also open for public use.
There’s also “The Meander,” a 1.56-acre urban promenade that will house a lawn for events, screenings, and performances, as well as outdoor seating. Google says it envisions this area to be an arts and culture center that is “an inviting place to spend time with friends and family”, and that the area will be closed to cars.
The last specific area Google outlined is “The Creekside Walk,” which is meant