First United Methodist Tower
San Jose, CA
The First United Methodist Church and Tower, on a site across the street from the new San José City Hall designed by Richard Meier, is a mixed-use project with a new church at the base of a twenty-one-story housing tower. The entrance to the church is at the corner of Santa Clara and Fifth Streets. The main sanctuary, social hall, and chapel are organized along a broad double-height gallery that parallels the new Fifth Street paseo; church and city are both separated and connected by a glass wall. On the second level are classrooms and offices, and on the third, the parsonage and a daycare center that opens onto a rooftop play area. The housing tower above the church has a central distribution core surrounded by a service ring, and then open program space, enclosed by the perimeter skin.
There are three apartment types: studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom. Each unit is divided between compressed service space along the interior—bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, and storage—and open living areas along the exterior. This exterior skin is floor-to-ceiling glass, which optimizes views and light; aluminum sliding doors and frameless glass railings behind provide French balconies. Two-story exterior common spaces rotate around the sides of the tower, offering a variety of views and orientations; these are facilities for occupants to barbecue, sunbathe, exercise, and congregate. A vertical concrete shear-wall system provides structure and finish as well as support for the glass skin. The skin is inset two feet; the resulting floor projections allow for assembly without scaffolding and, once the building is complete, shading and window cleaning.