Needed: San Jose Institute of Design

The arts culture in San Jose has really grown with the emergence of the SOFA district and events such as the monthly South First Fridays, yearly Subzero, and the Zero1SJ biennial festival. Galleries and theaters are popping up and offering not only local art but instructional classes, from basics to more advanced techniques. But what this area really needs is an institution that can continually cultivate new artists and ideas, as well as provide highly trained art teachers to give a better understanding of fine art. The San Jose Institute of Design is exactly what is needed. Just like San Jose State feeds the workforce of San Jose, so the arts and design institute would feed new artists into the budding art culture. But the placement of such a place is key. Currently many art students either travel to San Francisco or Sunnyvale for art institutes, so having a local institute would give South Bay residents an closer opportunity. It must be within the SOFA district in order to have an immediate impact.

Artist's rending or the Market Gateway (SOFA) Tower

There was a proposal for a Market Gateway or “SOFA” tower on the peninsula bordered by Market and S. First streets. It was proposed to have a art gallery on the bottom floors with residences on the top floors. Maybe this design could be modified to include the art institute. But the optimal location would be the vacant building on the corner of W. San Carlos and S. First St. This is a move in ready building and would give the institute a chance to start up in a matter of months rather than years if a building had to be built first. With the Tech Shop recently opening just a block away, art galleries just a few yards away, and three cinemas within a block or two, and two stage companies within a half a mile, this space would be a perfect fit for the area. Then if the design institute grows large enough, it could use the surrounding land that is currently used as a parking lot and create a urban campus/cultural arts center. The design of the buildings would be unique and inspirational, and the proximity would allow the aforementioned festivals to be held within it. In tough economic times, creative people become more reliant on their ingenuity, then in times when everything is going well. It is during these moments of creative explosion that new movements are born and this is the case here in San Jose. An institute of design is essential for moving the arts culture to a greater level. San Jose could become a leader in a new American art rebirth.

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5 Responses to Needed: San Jose Institute of Design

  1. Julie Brisco says:

    I fully support the idea of a San Jose school that would cater directly to art and media design. I’ve lived in San Jose for a long time, and had many friends move away to go to school, specifically to find an art school to further their careers. If we had one here, I wonder if we could retain more budding artists instead of losing them to other states. Food for thought!

  2. Carter Lavin says:

    That is a great idea. You should try to get the owners of local artistic institutions to meet up about this and generate some ideas to get the ball rolling.

  3. Carter Lavin says:

    The building at San Pedro and St. James that is slated for demolition would be a great spot to make into numerous small artist studios. Make it like San Pedro market but for artists instead of mico-shops.

  4. Alyssa says:

    YES YES YES. The rendering of the SoFA building looks great. My friend goes to the Art Institute in Sunnyvale and when people asks where he goes to school, he lies because he’s so embarrassed! Sunnyvale is not an environment that fosters creative collaboration, but San Jose’s lovely downtown could be that place. I talked with him about an art school downtown and mentioned that since rent on the building would be higher, tuition would probably be higher as well. But he said that he is already paying $150,000 for his education– another $10,000 would be worth it as long as he didn’t have to go to school in Sunnyvale.