Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The new San Jose Light Tower is moving forward

San Jose is a city that has been in search of an internationally recognizable landmark for quite some time. Fortunately, a grassroots organization has come together with a mission to do just that. The San Jose Light Tower Corporation (SJLTC) is a nonprofit with the goal of building a world-class iconic structure that will represent our city for generations.

The project is broken down into four phases, and is surprisingly far along.

Phase 1 - Launch the Documentary: The Light Between Two Towers 

FUNDED. This exciting film by Thomas Wohlmut ties the historic San Jose Light Tower (built in 1881) to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It has been in the works for 8 years and will finally be complete in 2019. The film will be part of the promotional campaign for building a new tower that will represent the San Jose of today and tomorrow.

The Light Between Two Towers - Trailer from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

Phase 2 - Site Selection 

FUNDED, IN PROGRESS. The Light Tower Corporation initially evaluated six different sites in Downtown San Jose. When seeking city council support earlier this year, they received unanimous approval from all 11 seats. Now, we have a final candidate and that is the Arena Green (photo below). This location would highlight San Jose's flagship park and would be easily accessible from the SAP Center and Diridon Station, which is destined to become the busiest transit hub on the West Coast. It would also sit in the middle of some 10+ million SQFT of new development that will be built over the coming decade or two.

By December 4th, the City Council will decide whether or not to approve the location. The odds are looking quite good so far.

Phase 3 - Idea Competition

FUNDED. This one is hot off the press. On Sunday the San Jose Light Tower Corporation held a fundraiser to launch this next stage, an international competition to find the best design concept for the tower. It does not have to look like the 1881 historic tower, in fact it may not look like a traditional tower at all. As a wild futuristic example, the tower could be made out of drones. We are in the innovation capital of the world, it should be creative and reach a bit into the future.

The goal of the fundraiser was to secure the remaining $300,000 required to launch the competition. It may have helped that four (!) San Jose mayors were in attendance, but the goal was nailed.

Phase 4 - Construction

TBD. After the design competition, we will have some idea of what will be included as part of the project and what the costs will be. The preferred location supports a structure up to 150 feet tall, but there may be ways to add virtual height such as with creative lighting or projections. As soon as any new details are available, we'll provide updates ASAP. If you are interested in contributing to this exciting project, you can donate over here.

A New Iconic Monument for San Jose from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.


  1. You say the preferred site supports up to 150 feet, but in this Scott Knies article, he says we can have up to 225 ft at the arena site next door. https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2018/10/12/san-joses-moment-google-and-downtowns-west-side-story/

    Why not go higher?

    If we are going to invest so much in this tower, it should stand out on the skyline and I'm afraid 150ft doesn't cut it. If we are truly limited to that, we should make it a number of smaller linked artistic towers. Kind of like this set up:

  2. So...what does the FAA think about building a tall very bright tower right in the landing path green space of SJC?

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