The Silicon Valley Sign: Try vertical

This rendering shows a
This rendering shows a “Silicon Valley” sign installed in the east
foothills of San Jose, overlooking Interstate 880. (Courtesy Hafid
Alfonso/Silicon Valley Sign Project, via Sal Pizarro, Mercury News)

A lot has been said both good and bad about the proposed Silicon Valley sign in the eastern foothills of Silicon Valley. After talking to Hafid Alfonso(, there is a sense that the sign is about creating a marker point for Silicon Valley and less about the sign’s exact design. Yes, his inspiration was the Hollywood sign, but he wants something different, tech inspired for Silicon Valley.

What Hafid has done, is created a buzz about an idea that may or may not happen. But he has got people talking. Talking and thinking about creating a landmark for Silicon Valley, and San Jose. So what about a different version of the sign? What if instead of going horizontal and on a mountain, the sign were… vertical? What if, in a place known worldwide as the capitol of sprawl, a 200ft+ vertical sign “tower” was built, with the letters of “Silicon Valley” stacked on top of each other on one side, and “San Jose” on the other?

It could be a large column, with each letter being its own box, like children’s blocks. They could even be stacked cantilevered or straight. But at 200ft+ it would stand tall and be seen from most places across Silicon Valley, much like the current proposal is desiring. Even incoming and outgoing plane passengers would see the marker at that height.

By using technology to change the blocks, the squares could rotate and flip, and the letters could change. The sign could then be taken further form into different the Silicon Valley “stars” names: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Sergey Brin, Jerry Yang, John Warnock, Elon Musk and so on.

Hafid must be congratulated on having the ambition to take on a project of this magnitude and ridicule. These are the projects that divide the citizenry. But Hafid points to the Eiffel Tower as another dream project that came about because of the World’s Fair. Though this isn’t the Eiffel Tower, trying something new and bold, to make a statement about who we are and where we live, could be as easy or as hard as putting a marker in the ground.

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One thought on “The Silicon Valley Sign: Try vertical

  • Jorge

    Didn’t the city try that with the Electric Light Tower back in the 1880’s , it seems like it wasn’t that popular, it collapsed in a storm and was never rebuilt. I’ve thought for years that it would be a good civic project to build a full size replica on location with RGB LEDs allowing any color combination, but it doesn’t seem like there is traction to do that. So I’m guessing something bigger on the hillside will be even less likely to get traction.

    Why not a large display with a ton of bright LEDs, I’m guessing it would be an issue for the observatory, but it would allow the city to display anything they wanted, with any color combination as well.

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