San Jose City Hall first opened in 2005 and is one of the older developments in our civic centre series. Despite this it remains relevant as a result of its role as a community facility and architectural credentials.
According to San Jose City Council, “the City Hall was thoughtfully planned to make it as simple as possible to access City services. It reflects the vitality, diversity and creativity of the City of San Jose and provides residents with a City landmark and a sense of community pride.” This brief is apparent in the design of the City Hall, which was created by Richard Meier, the architect behind the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, for which he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The City Hall complex includes an 18-storey tower, a three-story wing and a domed rotunda which is the equivalent of 10 storeys high. The 18 storey office tower houses city departments and the plaza-level permit centre whilst the three-story council wing houses the city council chambers, public meeting rooms, retail spaces, and additional departmental offices. While the height and scale of the building certainly make for a landmark, it fits comfortably in its surroundings as part of a seven block redevelopment. The development area consists of both new and existing buildings which, according to the architects, is “unified through streets, walkways, plazas, courtyards, and fountains.” The new buildings in the area include a school, a library, a performance hall and new public car parks. Similarly to last weeks featured civic centre, Malatya City Hall, the City Hall and surrounding redevelopment demonstrates a shift towards encouraging people in to use civic spaces rather than using it as a place that influences citizens from the inside outwards. This is further exemplified by the public plaza and transparent domed entrance, which serves a the main focal point of the City Hall and is designed to accommodate large events such as concerts, exhibitions and lectures.
Once again San Jose provides us with an example of city hall that reflects community spirit and encourages residents to view it as a community facility rather than simply an administration centre.