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The Cloud and the Valley

Proposal for a Monument to Silicon Valley
San Jose, California, 2020

In considering the great architectural icons of the world, one must reflect upon their messages: the Great Pyrimd of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower, represent power, love, freedom, and progress, respectively. They are colossal monuments with simple messages, presenting history as a linear series of achievements. Progress, though, is not so linear: rather, it is a dense network of interrelated events, carried out by countless individuals, one impacting the other.

Attempting to describe this progress through narrative or monument flattens its complexity, simplifying it to something easily understood, though bearing only a passing resemblance to the original subject. This is similar to the concept of quantum indeterminacy, stating that some components of a physical system must remain fundamentally unknown, because attempting to measure them would change the state of that system.

Instead of attempting to characterize the vitality and enduring spirit of innovation of Silicon Valley through reductive iconography, we propose The Cloud & The Valley, a bold, shape-shifting, indeterminate monument with an infinite number of meanings for an infinite number of visitors, manifesting the power and character of this historic place.

Situated on the western portion of the site to take advantage of access from all sides, The Cloud & The Valley is a 2-part intervention, both pieces working symbiotically to strengthen the effect of the other. The Valley is a landscape consisting of a series of highly articulated hills and dales, softened by ponds and meadows teeming with natural life, cut through by an intricate network of paths that move along, float above, and dig deep into the surface of the earth. This expansive ecosystem functions as a public park, open at all times to visitors and community members alike.

Floating above this idyllic space is The Cloud, a delicately filigreed gridwork superstructure full of vibrant life and urban activity. The principle interior program is a museum to the past and future of Silicon Valley, accentuated by shops, restaurants, and other social activators, surrounded by extensive planted terraces, from which visitors can observe the city in its mountainous landscape.

The Cloud is constantly changing in shape and profile throughout the day, as the varied locations of the sun play with light and shadow upon its many faceted surfaces. At night, each grid member is illuminated, creating a delicate latticework of illumination floating effortlessly above the ground.