Last night the San Ramon City Council, along with Sunset Development and the Architects, unveiled the design and plans for the new City Center Project.
In a word, it is spectacular. Much more and much nicer than anyone who was there was expecting. To get an overall feel you need look no further than the Architecture firm that was selected – Renzo Piano Building Workshop from Genova, Italy. Their most famous US project to date is the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Their plan for San Ramon follows the same theme of blending in with nature and the surrounding area and the concept of “transparency” – open floor plans and the use of glass on all sides to encourage interaction. There are no back doors, hallways or alleys to close off the flow. Also important to their design was including a large “piazza” – an actual central gathering place for the people of San Ramon to enjoy a concert, art, events or just a cup of coffee.
Important to note is this is a Bishop Ranch project financed by Sunset Development and other than the use of some city owned land, San Ramon has no financial interest or costs associated with the project. Previous plans had included two large department store anchors, but with the change in retailing since the recession they didn’t make sense to include in the current plan. The 1.8 million square foot project was designed with the California Zephyr Silver Star, Greyhound busses and Airstream trailers as inspiration, mainly because along with the use of glass, the use of metal siding reflects the surrounding light and greenery helping the structure blend in with the area.
When will we see this built? There are 4-5 months of final planning to go through, but they would like to see a shovel in the ground before the end of the year with the project completed by the end of 2016. After so many years this is finally a reality – and the people of San Ramon can’t wait to have their own version of “Main Street USA”!