San Jose City Hall

The San Jose City Hall and Civic Center is the new centerpiece of a seven block redevelopment district of new and existing buildings unified through streets, walkways, plazas, courtyards and fountains. Buildings in the surrounding district include a new performance hall, elementary school, rebuilt church, a joint library shared by the City and University and two public parking garages. The project comprises an eighteen story office building to house the City departments, the Council Chambers, a major civic rotunda, exterior plaza and below grade parking.

The main entrance is on Santa Clara Street through a sweeping public plaza. The focal point of the plaza is a transparent domed entry serving as a visible symbol of the city government as well as the main project entry and lobby suitable to accommodate large public events such as speeches, concerts and exhibitions. The curved wall defining the main plaza, together with the rotunda space, acts to unify all components of the facility.

The rotunda is complemented on the east side by the office tower, which houses city departments and the plaza level permit center, and on the west side by the three-story council wing, which houses the Council Chambers, public meeting rooms, retail spaces and additional departmental offices. A grand staircase in the rotunda leads to the prominently located Council Chambers in the second floor council wing. The chamber is also accessible along a walkway of exterior steps that follows the plan of the plaza wall.

Exterior finish materials include stone, metal panel, clear glass and concrete. The thin building proportions are achieved with a unique dual structural system that utilizes concrete shear walls as “bookends” to provide lateral strength. The ultra-thin proportions of the tower, combined with a west-facing brise soleil, support daylighting and natural ventilation throughout the building. The architecture of the civic center is unique and recognizable while maintaining the presence and importance of a City Hall.

Text, Drawings and Model:

© Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

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