Oakland Uber Alles: Gensler unveils new East Bay headquarters for booming ride-share company

Architecture Development Other Preservation West
Revamped Sears building with facades on both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue. (Steelblue)

Revamped Sears building with facades on both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue. (Steelblue)

Not content with 423,000 square feet designed by SHoP Architects in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Uber is expanding into Oakland. The company purchased the former Sears building from developer Lane Partners, who bought the building last year. Genlser is on deck to transform the old department store into 330,000 square feet of creative office space. The iconic chunk of real estate prominently faces both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue and its redevelopment marks a turning point for Oakland.

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New atrium brings light into courtyard. (Steelblue)

Renamed Uptown Station, the building is located atop the 19th Street BART station. The ride-share company plans to locate up to 3,000 employees in the Oakland headquarters, noting that some 2,000 Uber employees currently live in the East Bay. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the expansion is a game changer for Oakland. It reported that if Uber fills the whole space, it “would become Oakland’s largest employer, that isn’t a government agency or medical center.”

Old department store striped bare for new workspaces. (Steelblue)

Old department store striped bare for new workspaces. (Steelblue)

A mapping of displacement and gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area (Courtesy urbandisplacement.org)

A mapping of displacement and gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area (Courtesy urbandisplacement.org)

Gensler’s proposed renovation of the Sears Building comes with a possible $40 million dollar price tag. Interactive renderings done by Steelblue for Lane Partners show the old building stripped down to the concrete and brick, with an 85-foot-tall atrium spilling light into an interior courtyard full of retail spaces on the first floor.

‎”We’re proud that Uber was attracted to Oakland’s creative energy, incredible talent, progressive values, prime location and accessibility to the entire region,” Oakland Mayor Leslie Schaaf was quoted as saying in the San Jose Mercury News.

While Uber will surely attract more investment in the neighborhood, Downtown Oakland’s revival since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake has also led to increasing displacement in the city’s urban core. Last month, UC Berkeley researchers at the Project For Urban Development released a study that tracks displacement and gentrification in the region. The accompanying interactive map shows a swath of advanced gentrification along Broadway from the Old Oakland historic district to the Temescal neighborhood.

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Ground floor retail spaces. (Steelblue)

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Open floor plate work areas. (Steelblue)

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