On June 6, Santa Clara Agrihood, a project that’s located near the San Jose border across from Westfield Valley Fair, was distinguished with an Award of Merit in the Innovation in Green Community Planning category by the American Planning Association Northern California Chapter. The project’s developer The Core Companies, architect Steinberg Hart and the City of Santa Clara received the award at an APA event in Oakland. The Agrihood project was developed under a partnership among the City of Santa Clara, the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing and Core Companies.
“We all have a fundamental connection to the earth,” said Steinberg Hart Partner & Senior Vice President Ernie Yamane. “The Santa Clara Agrihood — which has been a true joint-effort and collaboration between our design team, The Core Companies, and the City of Santa Clara — beckons to the agricultural roots that we’ve lost in our planned urban environment.
“When developing the plan and design for the Santa Clara Agrihood,” continued Yamane. “We placed a large focus on placemaking, and how this innovative project fits into the City’s urban environment. The result is a sustainable community that will not only house residents from diverse ages and income levels, but also create a place that draws in, engages, and educates the community.”
The Agrihood is a residential project that provides 36 townhouses, 160 mixed-income units and 165 affordable units within 261,000 square feet on a 5.8-acre site. One of the most notable aspects of the project is that a 1.5-acre plot of the project’s open space is devoted to agricultural space to supply the community with food. Steinberg Hart described the Agrihood as, “The first combined agricultural and residential development in the Bay Area.”
Other amenities include several common areas, a cafe, community building and outdoor recreational space. The design of Agrihood was also envisioned to capture the agrarian roots of Silicon Valley.
Carmela Campbell, Awards Program Director for APA, explained that the award sought to recognize projects that showed special innovation and originality in environmental aspects of planning. The organization especially wanted to recognize projects that demonstrated how residential planning can intersect with other land uses — something that the Agrihood achieved with its agricultural space designed to serve the community. Another big component was the high degree of community engagement. There were a series of community meetings by both the project team and City to inform the public, and the project’s design was in turn informed by community feedback.
“This is an exciting project and the judges were especially appreciative of the farm-to-table aspect — this was very impressive,” said Campbell. “There was also the sentiment of Santa Clara Valley’s important agricultural history that has been reimagined in this project. It honors the past while looks towards the future.
“This was a really exciting project,” continued Campbell. “It can be used as a model for communities that have agricultural roots, and we’ll be seeing more like this. There was a lot of interest from planners from other cities — there’s a lot of buzz about this project.”
The project also garnered an Award of Merit in the Best On-the-Boards Mixed-Use Project category at the PCBC Gold Nugget Awards. The PCBC awards are given annually to the top innovators in design, planning and development.