San José will soon be home to a striking new outdoor pavilion that will host a number of art-themed events and potentially serve as a symbol for a reimagining of the constructed space of Silicon Valley. City officials and organizers hope the Serpentine Pavilion, a towering LEGO-like structure that has made appearances in London and Toronto, will revitalize San Jose’s South First Area, or SoFA neighborhood, and help the city center. to recover from the social stagnation of the pandemic.
City of San Jose staff said the Serpentine Pavilion could host more than 300 events, including theatrical performances, film screenings and fashion shows; city officials believe that the pavilion could potentially “activate” the SoFA district by offering free public events, as well as private engagements, according to the Mercury News. “The various activations that will take place in and around the Serpentine will promote the recovery of downtown after the pandemic,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association.
The Serpentine Pavilion is made up of some 1,800 fiberglass frames stacked to form a curved cave-shaped passage, says the Mercury News, adding that it has become an international traveling exhibit that has been shown in Kensington Gardens in London, as well as Toronto.
The Serpentine Gallery seen in Kensington Gardens in London. Source: Wikipedia Commons
The real estate company Westbank Corp., which is involved in a number of potential large-scale developments in San Jose, has spearheaded the pavilion’s world tour concept. Westbank also owns the downtown site, known as the Valley Title block, where the Serpentine Pavilion will appear. The site is bordered by East San Carlos Street, South First Street, East San Salvador Street and South Second Street, according to the Mercury News.
The Westbank, based in Canada, is part of a “radical transformation of San José that is redefining Silicon Valley”, according to Designboom. Westbank recently paid $ 11.4 million for a 1.6 acre parcel in downtown San Jose on the southwest corner of Terraine and Bassett streets in hopes of building a residential tower on the site, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported, adding that the region has seen hundreds of new apartment buildings constructed in recent years. However, the region “is still not really flourishing,” according to local developer Gary Dillabough, who co-founded Urban community, a company committed to enhancing the urban experience in downtown San Jose. “The addition of another residential tower should help the neighborhood to become more dynamic; to create a truly dynamic area, density is extremely important, ”says Dillabough, according to the Business Journal.
Designboom argues that Silicon Valley has long focused its attention on the digital space, leaving its built environment largely ignored. “Those who work in San Jose spend too much time commuting from other areas, finding their work environment uninspiring and unhealthy,” they write. “[Westbank] will finally bring the built space of Silicon Valley into the future with a collection of community-driven residences and workspaces. “
The Mercury News said the exhibits at the Serpentine Pavilion could be used to promote downtown San Jose projects planned by Westbank and Urban Community.