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In The News

Student shows magnitude of ‘mini-city’ proposal

By Heather Murtagh
Daily Journal, 9/27/10

Sequoia High School senior Camilo Delay knew about the large development proposal at the Cargill Saltworks but didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter going into last summer.

Delay, an International Baccalaureate student at Sequoia, needed a summer internship. His neighbor, Bryan Beck, on the other hand, did have an opinion about the Saltworks — it’s too big. But his main concern was helping people understand what it would look like. Creating a 3-D model seemed like a good idea. With funding available for IB internship projects, as long as there was a sponsoring agency, Delay and Beck found one, the Committee for Green Foothills. The computer simulated 3-D view of the proposed 12,000 housing units and 1 million square footage of commercial development on former baylands made one thing clear to Delay: The housing doesn’t fit.

“This project allows us to see the true magnitude of Cargill's mini-city in a way we've not been able to previously appreciate,” Lennie Roberts, legislative advocate for Committee for Green Foothills, wrote in a prepared statement. “It gives the public a visualization tool to begin to understand the enormity of the salt pond project and its impacts on the region.”

It all started with a simple idea. Beck knew his neighbor, who was about to be a senior, needed an internship for the summer. Living in Redwood City, Beck was well versed in the Cargill proposal.

“I was concerned people were not grasping the scope of what Cargill was proposing,” he said. “It would be helpful to get images out there just some sketches of the scale of what was being proposed.”

Delay, who has an interest in graphic design, liked the idea. Plus, Beck, his neighbor, would be Delay’s mentor. This meant the ability for quick feedback on his work.

Delay started by studying the plans specifics for the salt pond development. He spent six to seven weeks of occasional, very concentrated, work creating the rendering which was built upon a map of the area.

“I hadn’t thought about the impact of the projects until I finished the model then realized how immense it was,” said Delay. “This sounds like it’s going to be a terrible idea.”

While commercial builds fit, albeit a tight squeeze, Delay had trouble placing the low-density housing. The proposal calls for 2,000 such units. Using townhouses, Delay could only fit a little over 1,000 on it. Now this could be a small detail since developers often say up to so many units, which is the case here. Even with the 1,000 units, Delay and Beck have concerns about the proposal.

Delay’s program, which allows the viewer to see the development proposal from many angles and varied differences, shows even those that do fit are done so with little space between the buildings.

Throughout the process, Beck has maintained his opinion that the development is a “colossal mistake.” Delay, on the other hand, is opposed to it. But his point of view is a little different.

He hopes more people can see his work, visualize the proposal and decide for themselves. Delay isn’t quite sure how to distribute it yet.

This experiment exploring large developments didn’t pique Delay’s interest in large developments, but he does still hope to pursue graphic design aspirations after high school.


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