Arbor's prominent position at the northwestern edge of downtown San Jose signals the next stage of Silicon Valley's evolution, welcoming visitors and residents to a city that is reembracing the rich ecological mosaic of the Santa Clara Valley, now become vertical.

San Jose, CA, USA

In design



Structural Type
Mass Timber Hybrid

500,000 sf

Targeting LEED Platinum


Before the mid-19th century, California’s Santa Clara Valley (now commonly known as Silicon Valley) was a place of extraordinary biodiversity—a mosaic of ecosystems supported by the region’s geology, hydrology, and native peoples. Urbanization erased much of this richness, but today a renewed understanding of the many benefits of green space and natural systems demands that we find new ways to cultivate and reintegrate them into cities while simultaneously reversing urban sprawl.

The Arbor project demonstrates how workspace architecture can contribute to this movement in Silicon Valley’s largest city, San Jose. Employing low-carbon materials and responding precisely to the sun, wind, and other factors, the design creates a light, layered office tower supporting a variety of indoor/outdoor habitats where people and nature can flourish.

The project takes its name from the structure it is conceived as: a lightweight wooden framework that accommodates diverse forms of life and growth. From an efficient, mass timber structural grid, the building is shaped to provide highly flexible and adaptable workspaces which extend into outdoor terraces on all levels. Framed and screened exterior cladding and layered thresholds finely tune this relationship between inside and out, bringing natural light and air into the interior while providing shade and wind protection where needed to create comfortable “micro-climates” for working, socializing, and varied vegetation.

Rather than replacing the neighboring Davidson Building, the project reinvents it as a contemporary work and community space, integrated with the new architecture with a bridge, strategic openings, and a new cladding system – providing a link with history and further minimizing the carbon footprint. By saving and reimagining this building, it creates a new, public plaza between Arbor and Davidson.

Throughout the building and site, passive environmental strategies work in combination with advanced green systems, materials, and energy harvesting to target a LEED Platinum level of performance. In addition, rather than replacing the neighboring Davidson Building, the project reinvents it as a contemporary work and community space that is integrated with the new architecture—providing a link with history and further minimizing carbon footprint.

With its organic framework woven through with living plants and a cascading topography of terraces, the architecture embodies how San Jose can reembrace its former ecological mosaic, now become vertical.

Design and Consultant Team

Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers, structural engineer

Elysian Landscapes, landscape architect

Kier + Wright, civil engineer

Atelier 10, sustainability consultant

Interface Engineering, MEP/FP engineer

Nemetz & Associates, electrical and telecom consultant

BVDA Group, envelope consultant

Edgett Williams Consulting Group, vertical transportation consultant

Holmes Fire, fire and life safety consultant

Fehr & Peers, transportation consultant

American Trash Management, waste management consultant

C.S. Caulkins, facade access consultant

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, waterproofing consultant



Fast Company — "Sprawl Ruined Silicon Valley. Can World Class Architecture Fix It?"

"In the heart of Silicon Valley, where the landscape is dominated by self-contained tech campuses and low-density car-oriented urbanism, a major new development is bringing in a team of world-class architects to add a collection of mixed-use projects to downtown San Jose."

Read more about our mass timber, zero carbon project in San Jose!