Project Description

This urban design studio will explore possibilities for the future redevelopment and management of public open space, urban corridors, markets, and transportation centers within an area of San Jose that is located north of the downtown business district. Through the lens of social equity, economic development and sustainability, the class will conduct in-depth field work and urban analysis to support design recommendations for three core areas shown in the map below. Using these analyses, the class will address opportunities to reactivate St. James Square by integrating the areas into a holistic plan.

The historical St. James Square district is embedded within a rapidly changing residential neighborhood and an economically prosperous downtown area. Recent concerns over safety and future transit development have many local community members concerned about its future. However, its close proximity to San Pedro Square and Santa Clara Street offer opportunity to reactivate the park and make it welcoming to a wide range of users from within downtown and the larger region.

The West Santa Clara corridor is part of a larger urban network of both city and regional transportation. It will soon undergo intensive redevelopment with a planned Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) and two regional rail stations (BART). With this future development in mind, understanding the existing streetscape, the impact of new developments and identifying opportunities to maintain and improve its character and pedestrian connectivity are essential to a successful corridor and to St. James Square.

The course will begin with a precedent assignment to research and analyze a series of urban policies and projects that are embedded in economically and socially diverse settings. Equipped with this knowledge, students will perform an urban analysis of each of the three areas above. In the third assignment, students will develop a series of recommendations for each area in relation to specific identified needs. During the fourth assignment, students will integrate and synthesize each of the three areas into a cohesive set of design recommendations for the area.

Students will interact with community and city representatives in order to understand the various perspectives and dynamics at play in this area of San Jose. These participants are each invested in the area for its potential future growth and contribution to San Jose’s livability and vitality.

Study Areas

Instructor: Ginette Wessel

Lecturer, Dept of Urban & Regional Planning, San Jose State

PhD Candidate, Dept of Arch, UC Berkeley

MArch, MA Geography, BS Arch