New SJ skyscraper preserves ‘Googie’ architectural style of old mid-century restaurant – CBS San Francisco
SAN JOSE (KPIX) – A new high-rise housing complex in San Jose breaks the mold of how developments can shape the future while preserving the past.
“This is how historic architecture can coexist with the new. It’s not a proposition either-or, ”said Ben Leech of the San Jose Preservation Action Council.
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The development will occupy the site of a mid-century roadside restaurant on 2nd and San Salvador streets. The building was first a Sambo creperie, then a Chinese restaurant called Bo Town.
Its iconic zigzag roofline and starry light fixtures are just a few clues to a unique architectural style.
“Buildings like this are called Googie, it’s a mid-century design that emphasized eccentricity, kind of space age material, zigzags, and you think the Jetsons era, it’s Googie, ”Leech said.
Not an official historic site, the building had to be demolished to make way for a 29-story
residential skyscraper. But then the developer, Westbank Out of Canada, came back with an idea to save it – sort of.
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“Their plan is to remove the building, but then replace it in kind. So at the end of the
project, that’s always what you see here.
Rebuilt from the ground up, the new building will also be a restaurant and the developer even plans to save the free-standing sign up front. This decision is welcomed and not just by conservation advocates.
“The fact that our developers are really thinking about what it means to preserve history while paving the way for the future is really powerful,” said Autumn Young of the San Jose Downtown Association.
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The new skyscraper will also add to the mix of old and new in the South First Street neighborhood, which is already seeing a significant new influx of people, businesses and energy as the pandemic exits.