By Meghan Hall
Almaden Boulevard is fast becoming a key hotspot for office projects in downtown San Jose, as developers’ plans will change the face of one of the city’s important thoroughfares in the coming years. Looking to make a statement amidst the wave of current development is J.P. DiNapoli Companies, who recently submitted its plans for Almaden Boulevard Tower, a 20-story, 781,000 square foot office tower. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, the project team intends for the development to make a statement.
Located at 50 Almaden Boulevard, J.P. DiNapoli Companies purchased the project site for $35.65 million at the end of 2019 from Pacific Bell, affiliated with AT&T. Over the past several months, J.P. DiNapoli Cos. has been working with Gensler to refine the building’s design and produce a striking and welcome addition to the neighborhood.
“We are pleased to bring forward another first-class office tower project to this burgeoning area on Almaden Boulevard,” explained President of J.P. DiNapoli Cos., John DiNapoli in a statement. “This central location is convenient to transit and freeways and is surrounded by Downtown’s rich cultural and entertainment districts. We feel the building’s design will be a great addition to a dynamic and growing Downtown San Jose.”
The design of the tower was largely informed by the site’s location on Almaden Boulevard and the surrounding development context. There’s another AT&T building located just to the south, used as a server and data center, a parking garage to the north, the Greyhound site, which will be developed in the future, as well as the De Anza Hotel and South Adobe Headquarters.
“We just submitted for entitlements several weeks ago, so the design process was fairly compact…,” explained Gensler’s San Jose Design Director, Daniel Glaessl. “Generally, the site location and the immediate urban context was a big design driver in the design process.”
The exterior of the building will feature a bronze façade clad in large, triangular louver panels, allowing the façade design to filter daylight, preventing glare and shade. Six terraces for recreation, collaboration, and with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Mount Hamilton Mountain Range are also included in the project plans. The building is targeting LEED Gold and upon completion will be the second fully-electric building in San Jose.
As COVID-19 began to spread and change perceptions of what future offices will look like, Gensler and J.P. DiNapoli Cos. incorporated flexible layout into the building’s design. If need be, the ground floor of the project can be subdivided into four different lobbies with separate elevators to accommodate several different tenants. The importance of the existing balconies—two of which span the entire floor plate—was emphasized, as well. Decentralized building systems became paramount, as did interconnecting staircases within tenant spaces. Additional features such as touchless entry have also been accommodated for.
“These things were there prior to coronavirus, but as soon as we had a better understanding of the impact of the current situation, we worked on these things with more consideration to make sure they are connected to the workplace, said Glaessl. Glaessl continued, adding, “The design prioritizes quality outdoor access and an enhanced human experience. Gensler employed multiple post-pandemic design strategies that push the idea of creating space that can adapt quickly to changing expectations of the people who will use this space.”
Almaden Boulevard Tower is Gensler’s fourth major development project in downtown San Jose. The global architecture firm is also working on Jay Paul Cos. CityView Plaza and 200 Park Ave. projects, as well as Adobe’s North Tower. Gensler and J.P. DiNapoli companies hope that amidst so many office projects coming to market, Almaden Boulevard Tower will stand out and make an impact, setting a design precedent for future generations.
“I think Almaden Boulevard and Park Avenue will see the biggest change that downtown San Jose is experiencing right now,” said Glaessl. “Just if you see what’s happening on Almaden with the CityView development by Jay Paul and the 200 Park development which is already under construction, and with the completely new master plan for Park avenue, Museum place, all of these things together will give downtown a completely new face…This part of downtown is experiencing an enormous push right now…I think the impact could not be greater.”