Google’s San Jose Mega-Campus Gets Greenlit, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Rendering of Google’s Downtown West in San Jose

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Google gets approved to build a multibillion-dollar megacampus in downtown San Jose.

After four years of negotiations, San Jose city officials have unanimously approved Google’s proposal to build a massive campus in the heart of downtown. For the “Downtown West” project, the tech giant plans to develop 80 acres of land, including thousands of housing units, 7.3 million square feet of office space for 20,000 workers, and 300 hotel rooms for Google’s corporate guests. Half the project will be allocated for residential and public space, and will include such amenities as parks, restaurants, retail, entertainment space, and ecological viewing stations. “Together, we’ve created a foundation for an equitable and environmentally focused place that represents the best of San Jose and Google,” says Alexa Arena, Google’s San Jose development director, who further described the proposal as “much less the corporate campus” and more “a resilient neighborhood.” Construction may begin as early as next year, but will take between 10 and 30 years to complete.

President Biden calls for a major increase in funding to the National Endowment for the Arts.

As part of his $6 billion budget, President Biden has proposed a 20 percent increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. If approved by Congress for the 202 fiscal year, the budget would mark the single largest budget increase in the organization’s history. “[His] budget represents a significant commitment to the arts and cultural sector and reflects the continued importance of arts organizations and cultural workers to the health and vitality of the country,” Ann Eilers, the agency’s acting chairman, said in a statement. It’s a far cry from former President Trump’s proposals to eliminate the agency entirely, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

FIGS modeled by Ayet Betty in Surface’s December 2019 issue. Photography by Cole Barash

In a stellar debut, the stylish medical scrubs disruptor Figs gets valued at $4.57 billion.

As Surface noted back in 2019, direct-to-consumer brand FIGS has given the healthcare industry a dose of millennial cool thanks to its stylish scrubs. Last week, we learned just how much that cool is worth after Figs Inc.’s shares jumped nearly 29 percent in their market debut—opening at $28.30, up from the offer price of $22—valuing the company at $4.57 billion. The company saw a 138 percent revenue increase in 2020, a reflection of the boost in demand during the pandemic. Read the Surface profile to learn about the rise of the “Warby Parker of Scrubs.”

New York’s Black Wall Street gets defaced on the Tulsa Race Massacre’s 100th anniversary.

Overnight on Monday, thick white paint was smeared onto the window of Black Wall Street, a Lower Manhattan gallery that was displaying pieces for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The NYPD has declined to categorize the vandalism as hate speech, though a representative confirmed the incident was referred to the Hate Crime Task Force for further investigation. “We are demanding that the police review their policies on what constitutes hate speech because this was indeed deliberate and intentional,” the gallery wrote on Instagram. “All one has to do is look at the facts. We are Black Wall Street Gallery and this incident occurred exactly 100 years after the massacre. As far as we’re concerned, smearing white paint on the word ‘black’ is deliberate and intentional and therefore constitutes hate speech.”  

Australia 108 in Melbourne by Fender Katsalidis. Photography by Peter Bennetts

Australia’s tallest residential tower rises in Melbourne with a “starburst” design element.

Stretching nearly 1,050 feet into the sky, the Fender Katsalidis-designed supertall, Australia 108, edges out the Greek-Australian architect’s Eureka Tower (975 feet)—both of which are located in the Southbank neighborhood—and the Q1 Tower on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Notable for its blue-tinted glazing and sinewy white lines, the building’s standout element is the golden angular “starburst” feature inspired by the Commonwealth Star on the Australian flag. Out from the facade, it houses the communal areas and amenities for residents of the 1,105 apartments.

According to a new survey, Black people are severely underrepresented at L.A. museums.

While one may think that this past year’s racial reckoning would motivate cultural institutions to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion by addressing representation within their board of directors, new research suggests further progress is needed. The Los Angeles Times recently surveyed ten major Southern California museums and performing arts companies to assess how many of their board members identify as BIPOC and Black. Of the museums, Black board members make up a mere 5.4 percent of the boards (18 of 334 seats at the table). And while nearly 75 percent of Los Angeles County is non-white, only 19.8 percent of museum board members identify as nonwhite.

Piero Lissoni’s KN01 Chair for Knoll

Today’s attractive distractions:

This German castle’s eerily lifelike marble skull was actually a Bernini original.

Sinuous new furniture by Piero Lissoni stars in a playful short film for Knoll.

Elon Musk thinks that Neuralink brain chips will “end language” in 10 years.

Recreate the magic of Frank Lloyd Wright with these buildable miniatures.

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