AKA: IBM, Silicon Valley Lab (SVL), San Jose, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: McCue Boone Tomsick (MBT) Associates, Architects (firm); David Charles Boone (architect); Linda N. Groat (designer); Gerald Mallon McCue (architect); Frank Tomsick (architect)

Dates: constructed 1976-1977

4 stories

555 Bailey Avenue
San Jose, CA 95141-1003

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The opening of the Stanford Industrial Park in 1951, created a focal point for high-tech development in what had been the apricot. plum and cherry orchards of the Santa Clara Valley; development of the transistor in the 1950s and the later creation of the silicon chip catalyzed its rapid growth into the 1970s. By about 1974, the East Coast-based giant, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation, began planning its first software programming laboratory in Silicon Valley. The firm bought 1,180 acres of land on the southern fringes of San Jose, CA, a property once belonging to the 9,647-acre Mexican land-grant Rancho Santa Teresa given to the soldier José Joaquín Bernal (1762–1837) in 1834. IBM selected the San Francisco architectural firm of McCue Boone Tomsick (MBT), Architects, to produce the design. Planning and construction proceeded quickly, concluding in 1977. Later, MBT would also design IBM's nearby Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA, in 1983-1986. A previous PCAD entry conflated the Santa Teresa and Almaden Labs, an error pointed out by Rob Strong, Senior IT Architect, at the Silicon Valley Labs, 04/16/2012. A separate entry for the Almaden facility has been made.

The complex consisted of eight cruciform buildings, each four floors high, grouped around a landscaped plaza and a 45,000-square-foot center that contained classrooms, meeting rooms, dining areas, a recreation section and medical facilities; below the buildings, insulated by earth, architectural firm McCue Boone Tomsick (MBT) located a mammoth computer room, originally accommodating huge main-frames. The complex was oriented on a cross axis, the top of which pointed northwest. To the west of the central NW-SE axis, three buildings were located, to the east, the remaining five. The public entry aligned with the main NW-SE axis, providing views of the main courtyard and the multi-purpose center. Each identical, plus-shaped tower had its courtyard facade color-coded to differentiate it. A building's courtyard color continued on the interior. Seen from Bailey Road on the south, each unit's exterior had a uniform Modern look, covered in aluminum panels and a relentless grid of rectangular windows resembling a computer punch card. MBT placed a machine in a garden, with each aluminum box clustered tightly together to preserve views out toward the nearby foothills. (Clustering enabled 90% of the land to remain undeveloped.) View corridors were reiterated by the complex's diagonal paths between buildings. Efforts to reduce energy costs were necessary due to the high demand computers had for electricity. One observer noted: "Energy conservation is achieved through exterior heat reflection, daylighting, earth insulation, internal heat recovery and special mechanical system controls. The mirrored glass walls and the burial of the first floor dramatically reduce external heat gain; the immediate proximity of the majority of offices to large windows permits minimum heat gain from lights. All space heating and water heating is by heat recovery from the computers and lighting fixtures. The variable volume system is computer controlled for optimal efficiency." (See "IBM Santa Teresa Programming Center San Jose, California,"Accessed 04/26/2012.) Three parking lots for two-thousand employees, creating adjacent heat sinks, counteracted, to some degree, efforts to save on cooling costs. Offices for upper-level personnel were oriented with views toward the foothills and away from the parking lots.

PCAD id: 12788