San Jose State University Museum of Art + Design

Location: San Jose State University, San Jose, California

Program: Galleries, Auditorium, Administrative Areas, Curatorial Spaces, Teaching Rooms

Program Area: 41,000 sq.ft.

The museum is organized around four ribbons that weave through the building, each at a different floor. These ribbons are both telling and promissory: they define and connect the museum’s spaces, producing unexpected laps, loops and layers.

At the scale of the site, they also articulate the museum’s relationship to the campus. On the ground floor, the ribbons escape the bar, forming overlapping landscapes of indoor and outdoor spaces: the corner café draws people in off the Paseo; gallery and lecture receptions spill from the lobby out to the courtyard terrace; benches, tables, trees and the café’s ribbon bar create an activity zone along the front of the building.

The building envelope synthesizes materials and geometry. The laminated glass ribbons are barely held in place by the building’s taut, cartesian facade. These surfaces continually align and realign as they wind their way among programs, balconies, and materials. Their role is to choreograph unexpected exchanges of use, perception, and form.

Awards & Publications

Awarded First Place (commission) in an international competition.

Progressive Architecture Citation

Scroope 11

Architettura in Calcestruzzo

Architecture Magazine

San Jose Mercury News

Washington Square News

WW Project Team

Principals: Ron Witte & Sarah Whiting

Design Team: Clover Lee, John May, Kiel Moe, Michael Piper

Collaborating Architects

SMWM, San Francisco, California: Cathy Simon (Partner-in-Charge), Barbara Shands, John Long

Structural & Mechanical Engineering

Buro Happold, New York, New York: Craig Schwitter (Partner-in-Charge), Greg Otto (Structural Engineering), Denzil Gallagher, Alan Shepherd (Mechanical Engineering)

Landscape Architects

Hargreaves Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts: George Hargreaves (Partner-in-Charge), Kirt Rieder, Ken Haines

Enclosure Design Consultant

James Carpenter Design Associates, New York, New York: James Carpenter (Principal), Rayme Kuniyuki


L’Observatoire International, New York, New York: Herve Descottes (Principal)