Diridon: The Vision

Earlier today I had a chance to speak with Andrew Watkins, a candidate for the Master’s of Architecture in Urban Design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. During the spring, he worked on HUGSD’s contribution in shaping the future of the Diridon Station area. He even posted his team’s renderings on his own web site, renderings that eventually made it to the Skyscraper City forum. Before reading on, head over to Watkins’ site project page to look at the images.

I asked about the process used during the study. Watkins said that students partnered up, with each time coming up with their own unique vision for the area. The coming high speed rail project serves as the main impetus, with additional emphasis on natural features in the area such as Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek, public spaces, housing and retail, and of course, the ballpark.

Here’s some of the Q&A:

  • Were the students given individual pieces and the whole stitched together, or was it a competitive vision situation? Groups of 2 created each concept. Each team had their own concept. HSR was main impetus… There was no filtering on concepts.
  • Would you say this more of an exercise master planning exercise than in architecture? We’re all architecture students, but yes, I’d say this was more about master planning.
  • How much of a focus was there on connecting with downtown proper? Everyone was cognizant of the downtown area. At the same time there weren’t any proposals that altered (existing) structure.
  • Was there a frequent exchange of info with City/Redev? They were good about answering questions, especially the first month. We also made a site visit to San Jose.
  • I particularly liked the bi-level circulation plan. How did that come about? It was necessitated by multilevel infrastructure. BART’s underground, HSR and trains above ground, buses at ground level. There’s a need to make connections with all four levels. We don’t want to have a bunch of hidden ramps and stairs.

It’s Watkins’ hope that all of the submissions will be published soon. Apparently the City’s budget woes have forced that to be delayed somewhat. As City has another Good Neighbor meeting tomorrow night (PDF), it wouldn’t hurt to have these drawings and renderings available to help citizens better visualize the possibilities in the area (no, I don’t expect that to happen until some months from now).

Looking at the image at the top and other renderings, I’m somewhat reminded of Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. That too has bi-level circulation, with the complex spread over several blocks and traffic running through it. In this case, high-rise offices would be replaced by midrise housing, parking, and retail/commercial.

I didn’t ask much about the ballpark, because information I had received elsewhere indicated that the group didn’t receive much about a future ballpark other than already publicly available information. So the stuff you may have questions about – such as the parking garage on the fire training site or the missing power substation in the image above – aren’t addressed. City has already acknowledged that the parking garage on the fire training site isn’t necessary, and that the substation will likely be reconfigured instead of moved.

Questions or comments? Fire away.

8 thoughts on “Diridon: The Vision

  1. I see these pictures and envision the roof top bar and top floor club behind left field. Sort of a modernized Wrigleyville. Only owned by the team and complete with a "cover" charge… making the actual capacity for a game greater than the 32k. At least, that is what I would 🙂

  2. It seems like it would be quite an honor to have Harvard work on a project like this. How many projects like this are chosen a year and how does the selection process work? Also, why would the city's budget woes delay publication of the submissions?

  3. Diridon's a pretty unique project since it's a large public space in a downtown with numerous buildings. There was a "bidding" process before HUGSD was chosen.The way I see it, with the vote delayed until next year, City had to adjust its schedule. They have to make the same resources go further.BTW gojohn10, CONGRATS!

  4. if I'm looking at these pix correctly, they want to put buildings in what is now the onsite parking lot for the arena. Not a good idea since some day, in 20 years or so, it may be time to build a new arena and the lot adjacent to the current building would be the logical spot. This is what the Giants and Jets are doing in the Meadowlands, for example…

  5. Paul,I think a massive renovation of the existing HP Pavilion will happen instead of a spanking new venue. Kind of along the lines of what they did up at Oracle Arena.

  6. Paul – the buildings you're looking at are parking garages. They'll be needed to make up for lost surface parking as HSR/BART are built. There's also no chance of a new arena being built in the next 25 years. SJ won't just leave the lot empty while waiting for HP Pavilion to become obsolete.

  7. ..if they put parking garages in the arena parking lot, where will Ringling Bros keep its elephants when the circus comes to town?

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