Another day, another gleaming Silicon Valley headquarters. Today, it’s Samsung, which broke ground on this dazzling 60,000sqm office in San Jose. How does it stack up, so to speak, with its nearby peers?
The building (which is actually just one of four projects Samsung has going on nearby) will serve as a research and development centre for 2000 employees when it opens in 2015. Designed by 80-year-old mega-firm NBBJ, the main structure is a rectangular layer-cake made up of stacked offices and green space, all opening up onto a doughnut-shaped inner courtyard. Next door, a star-shaped “amenity center” anchors a public plaza and a strangely-rendered parking structure (seems like a creatively rendered green wall).
Samsung’s reps, along with the architects, describe the office as a future landmark for the area (apparently, it's "inspired by the connectivity that Samsung’s products stimulate"). Aestheticallym, it’s similar to many corporate office parks being built in the area.
Rather, the most progressive thing about the building is probably its site -- it’s located on North First Street, in downtown San Jose, making it unique amongst its more isolated peers. It’s still early days, so it’s hard to say how much of this will pan out, but Samsung reps say the office will include some public amenities:
The long site, which runs from east to west, is divided into four zones which move from urban to garden. Starting at N. 1st there will be a “City Plaza” with stone paving, porous paving, urban water elements and large scale art elements. Surrounding this plaza, where people come from the light rail, bus and car drop off, are a café with tables and chairs spilling out, Samsung Expo to showcase the latest technology from Samsung and the entry into the Tower Courtyard.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the flawed approach of some Silicon Valley giants to urban design. And while it might not be terribly out of the ordinary, Samsung's new digs are a heartening antidote to the status quo.