A design team made up of San Francisco–based CMG Landscape Architecture, Future Cities Lab, Page & Turnbull Architects, and ARUP engineers has been awarded a contract to rehabilitate San Jose, California’s historic St. James Park.

The City of San Jose held a national competition to redesign the neglected park back in 2016 with the aim of reintegrating and modernizing the city’s largest, most urban recreation space. The competition’s top four entries included competing submissions lead by New York City–based !Melk, Berkeley, California–based Meyer + Silberberg, and Philadelphia-based WRT.

The city’s 2nd Street was extended through the St. James Park in 1957 after a voter initiative, turning the formerly unified park into two, smaller areas that went underutilized and became blighted. Like its competitors, CMG’s winning entry—titled REMEMBER | IMAGINE—focuses on halting automobile traffic down the multi-modal street that bisects the park. An at-grade light rail line currently runs along 2nd Street and is expected to remain in the park moving forward.

Future Cities Lab has designed a multi-functional canopy structure to anchor the park's northern corner. (Courtesy CMG Landscape Architecture)

Future Cities Lab has designed a multi-functional canopy structure to anchor the park’s northern corner. (Courtesy of Future Cities Lab)

CMG’s proposal aims to install a series of picturesque, Victorian-inspired gardens with meandering trails around the perimeter of the park. An esplanade of shade trees, picnic areas, a cafe, and a dog park will fill out the spaces around the light rail line. One corner of the park will be anchored by a multi-use pavilion designed by Future Cities Lab. The octopus-like pavilion will be made up of half a dozen or so arcades that emanate from a bandshell-covered stage. According to renderings released by the winning team, the colonnades will provide shade for benches and walkways across this section of the park.

In a press release touting the winning commission, Nataly Gattegno and Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities lab said, “We designed the pavilion to be an open and illuminated space seamlessly integrated with the park. We want to encourage neighbors to stroll through the colonnades and interact with the pavilion day and night,” adding, “When there is a scheduled event, the pavilion will transform into a high-tech performance venue with superb acoustics and lighting.”  

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