During a presentation at a committee meeting on December 5, Oakland City Council president Rebecca Kaplan presented a doubtlessly provocative plan to partially resolve one of the California Bay Area's most significant political crises. One strategy for housing a thousand members of the region's homeless population, Kaplan suggested, would be to repurpose a disused cruise ship and keep it close to the harbor. “I think it’s worth working on," Kaplan opined, "to see if we can have an innovation to provide needed, urgent housing quickly and affordably.” As ludicrous as the idea may have sounded to Kaplan's audience members, it quickly gained traction with those in the industry. Two days after her presentation, an unidentified cruise ship company expressed interest in offering a number of ships for the cause. The opportunity might be attractive to a number of cruise ship companies in light of a looming emissions regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organization that is expected to take place next year. According to the new policy, a number of ships will not fail to qualify for engine upgrades and will therefore not be suitable as fully-functioning cruise ships. Unable to leave the docks, these ships could potentially serve a surprisingly altruistic purpose as they have in the past as emergency housing during Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Given the proven track record (though not for long-term housing), Kaplan expressed that she is "excited about the possibility to create more affordable housing quickly.” The Port of Oakland, however, has stated that the plan could not work on its dock in light of current restrictions. The ports are designed for cargo ships, Port of Oakland spokesman Michael Zampa explained, and cannot reasonably accommodate cruise ships without significant alterations. When putting into perspective that the current homeless population in Oakland is currently over 4,000 with little sign of decreasing, a plan such as Kaplan's might become a reality in the near future.
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While “justice” might be considered too abstract a design initiative for most architects, it has become a second language for the Oakland-based Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS). Co-founded by Deanna Van Buren and Kyle Rawlins, DJDS was established to create spaces for restorative justice, rehabilitation, and community building to provide solutions to the root causes of America’s mass incarceration crisis. As Van Buren stated in her popular TED Talk, the goal of DJDS is to focus design attention away from the “improvement” of the prison system and to instead transform the everyday spaces where justice should be taking place. By helping transition the punitive justice system into one of restorative justice, the firm hopes to improve the living conditions for millions of traditionally-underserved citizens while seeking an end to mass incarceration. Given that the projects they create do not fit into any traditional funding mechanism, the eight-person team decided to become both an architecture firm and real estate development nonprofit. They receive funding from philanthropic organizations, which is then used to leverage financing from socially-responsible lenders and investors, and state and federal programs, such as New Market Tax Credits, which support investments in low-income communities. These strategies have allowed DJDS to avoid many of the traps other justice-oriented firms have fallen into while establishing and improving upon several novel building types, including “resource villages,” “peacemaking centers,” and “social justice campuses.” To develop each project, DJDS intimately engages with the communities it intends to service. For a housing facility for youth transitioning out of foster care in Atlanta, for instance, DJDS engaged with the community during a nine-month process that included model-making, visual games, and finance education. In many cases, they learned that the spaces they create should be flexible, reconfigurable, and mobile in order to provide civic resources wherever they may be needed. Restore Oakland Completed last July, Restore Oakland is a 20,000-square-foot complex providing community advocacy and training sessions in the Fruitvale district for those in the Bay Area requiring such services, including immigrants, people of color, and those who have been previously incarcerated. Its bright walls, use of warm woods, and well-lit spaces are intended to contrast the aesthetics commonly associated with the prison system. Restore Oakland is a “social justice campus,” which Van Buren describes as a center for facilities in the service of restorative economics, including housing, restorative retail, and spaces for peacemaking and trauma-informed education. “What Restore Oakland represents,” said Van Buren, “is programs, place, and people coming together to build infrastructure that’s equitable.” It is jointly owned by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, whose goal is to reduce incarceration rates and improve resources for people of color in the neighborhood, and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has placed a COLORS restaurant on the ground floor to train low-income communities of color for jobs in the restaurant industry. The two owners of Restore Oakland hope that the new campus will help community members “dream, organize and act together for real community safety and self-determination.” Mobile Refuge Rooms In collaboration with Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), DJDS designed low-cost living units in Alameda County for recently incarcerated men. Each unit is primarily made of durable, inexpensive wood and is equipped with three essential furniture components—a bed, a desk, and storage space—that can be easily reconfigured to meet the personal preferences of its occupants. Sliding doors, folding panels, and built-in amenities are installed as space-efficient design gestures that appear both solid and permanent, despite the fact that the units can all be easily transported. Formerly incarcerated citizens not only participated in a two-month community engagement process following their design, but were also involved in every step of their fabrication, from initial designs to the finished product. Five Keys Mobile Classroom For the Five Keys Schools and Programs in California’s Bay Area, DJDS created the Five Keys Mobile Classroom, a retrofitted MUNI bus with classroom space, a library, and a mobile hotspot for online learning. The ergonomic detailing of its built-in furniture makes the compact interior ampler, providing room for guidance counseling sessions and social services that address issues including violence and drug abuse prevention. By bringing “the school to the people,” the Mobile Classroom provides much-needed educational facilities for neighborhoods whose residents are below the federal poverty line and cannot easily afford to travel. Its lime-green exterior becomes a beacon of hope in the neighborhoods it services, helping participants “choose their own path in life rather than stumbling along one strewn with gangs, drugs, and possibly, jail.” Pop-Up Village Much like the Five Keys Mobile Classroom and the Mobile Refuge Rooms, the Pop-Up Village is not fixed in any one location, as a way of providing services wherever they are needed. When the Pop-Up Village was first deployed in February of this year, it turned a vacant outdoor lot in an underserved area into a vibrant public space catalyzing “the magic that emerges when people and programs come together,” according to DJDS. As a “site-activation tool,” the Pop-Up Village brings together several justice-oriented programs, including those for health and wellness, retail, food, education, and services targeted toward youth and families. With the aesthetics of a swap meet or a farmer’s market, the project elevates the task of providing civic resources with dignity and uplifting design.
Building Industry Gathering (BIG) Oakland, a 3,650-square-foot coworking space for architects, engineers, and construction workers, has officially opened in Downtown Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza. The location is a first-of-its-kind concept for the Bay Area and is meant to help smaller companies compete with bigger offices with more elaborate resources. The founders noted that female- and minority-owned businesses, in particular, are frequently smaller and in need of the tools that only larger companies have. BIG is the brainchild of architect and cofounder Deanna Van Buren of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), contractor Jean Bjork of the Bjork Construction Company, architect Oscia Wilson of Google Real Estate, and developer Kyle Rawlins of DJDS. Designing Justice + Designing Spaces is an Oakland-based firm dedicated to attacking "the root causes of mass incarceration" as a way to address issues of social inequality. Its work has included designs for community centers, and mobile learning and shelter spaces. The coworking space is kitted out with everything a small company needs to operate, including plotters, large-scale printers, review tables, and a material library curated and cultivated by Rachel Stallworth of Stallworth Enterprises. BIG will also hold regular networking and education opportunities for its members to help bolster their connections. “The building and construction industry is still very much an old boy network where new opportunities often depend on who you know, and this puts smaller firms and those run by women and minorities at a disadvantage,” said Bjork in a press release. “Our goal is to create an ecosystem of businesses from throughout the industry so they can collaborate and easily form the type of sophisticated teams that are needed to win big projects.”
Bjarke Ingels has gone back to the drawing board and released a revised version of the Oakland Athletics’ potential new home stadium. The new renderings come three weeks after plans surfaced for an aerial gondola that would link the waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal to the larger Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is working with executive architect Gensler and landscape architect James Corner Field Operations for the site’s green spaces. Rather than a walled-off compound, BIG has envisioned a public-facing, mixed-use “ballpark district” in the vein of Boston’s Fenway Center, or Colorado’s Coors Field–adjacent West Lot. The scheme is projected to bring housing, a business campus, retail, and recreational areas to the waterfront site. The original scheme that BIG unveiled for the stadium last November was centered around a square ballpark topped with an occupiable green “ring” roof. Triangular housing clusters reminiscent of the firm’s Via 57 West would have been positioned at the stadium’s corners, and, judging from the renderings, a playground would have been located en route to the ballpark’s entrance. The diamond-shaped plan received mixed reviews from the public and elected officials. In an open letter sent out Monday, the A’s president Dave Kaval laid out the benefits of the new, softer scheme. Namely, BIG has opened up views of the nearby waterfront while creating a “softer” approach to the stadium. The surrounding towers, some of them up to 20 stories tall, have been reconfigured into more of a “stadium seating” arrangement and would slope down to face both the ballpark and the adjacent waterfront. Though the shape has changed, the airy, striated facade of the 34,000-seat stadium will remain. As part of the A’s initiative to build on the site, the team has partnered with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, a local environmental justice group, and will be presenting the West Oakland Environmental Justice bill to the state legislature. Howard Terminal, the location of the potential stadium, is currently a brownfield site with an industrial past, and soil and groundwater remediation will need to be completed before the A’s can break ground. The team is aiming to begin construction in 2021 and open the park by 2024 but is still working to purchase the site from Alameda County and the city of Oakland.
Brought to you with support fromOver the last three decades, Seattle has experienced explosive population and economic growth, that has fundamentally reshaped the city’s architectural makeup as well as its AEC community’s relationship to national and international trends. On December 7, Facades+ Seattle will bring together local practitioners in an in-depth conversation around recent projects and innovative facade materials and design. Consider architecture and design practice Olson Kundig. Founded in 1966, the firm has established an international reputation for blending high-performance enclosure systems with the craftsmanship of local artists and artisans. Principal Blair Payson will serve as co-chair for the conference, with other principals of the practice moderating the three panels.
Kirkland Museum in Denver, which features an array of glazed terracotta baguettes produced by NBK Terracotta arranged in a unique alternating pattern, and amber-colored glass inserts produced by small-scale manufacturer John Lewis Glass Studio based out of Oakland, California. The firm collaborated with local sculptor Bob Vangold to embed a sculptural form within the facade. To achieve this effect, the sculpture is anchored along the horizontal roof edge with a series of base plates. On a larger scale, the Olson Kundig-led renovation of Seattle’s Space Needle recently wrapped up after 11 months of sky-high construction. The project entailed the removal of decades of haphazardly designed additions in favor of an open-air viewing area. Working with facade consultants Front Inc., the design team converted floors within the top of the Space Needle to transparent glass panels providing revolving views on the city below, and wrapped the observation deck with 11-by-7-foot, 2.5-inch-thick glass panels produced by Thiele Glas and installed by a team of robots designed by Breedt Production. Just south of Seattle’s Space Needle, the trio of Amazon Spheres consists of approximately 2,500 glass panels suspended over a complex steel truss system. Collaborating with NBBJ Architects, Front Inc. led exhaustive case studies, with the help of custom-built software tools, to develop a glass tiling scheme matching visibility requirements for occupants and light exposure for the greenhouse within. Following the creation of multiple digital models, Front Inc. led the fabrication of full-scale mockups of the design to test the computer-generated models. Representatives of these two firms, as well as Gensler, Katerra, Werner Sobek, Thornton Tomasetti, and Eckersley O'Callaghan, will be on hand to dive deeper into the architectural resources and trends present in both Seattle and the rest of the country. Further information regarding Facades+AM Seattle may be found here.One such project is the recently completed
Today, the University of California, Berkeley, announced Deanna Van Buren, co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), as the recipient of this year’s Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. An award honoring architects or academics who show a commitment to sustainability and the community, it offers up the chance to teach and conduct research for a semester at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED). Van Buren is the mind behind DJDS, an Oakland-based nonprofit aiming to holistically transform the American jail system through a vision called restorative justice. As a national leader and advocate for smart justice architecture, her work zeroes in on supportive justice interventions that can help solve the serious issues caused by mass incarceration. Her architecture and real estate development practice, which she launched with Kyle Rawlins in 2015, works with government, non-profit, and community partners to spread awareness and create design projects that address social justice needs. “Deanna is a visionary leader, whose design work and activism are reshaping the cultural construct of justice in the U.S.,” said CED Dean Jennifer Wolch in a statement. “Her support for underserved communities, and efforts to create spaces that cultivate diversity in our field, exemplify the values we strive to encourage with this prize.”Van Buren’s extensive background showcases her commitment to the role of architect-activist. Last November, she spoke at a TEDWomen conference where she challenged the audience to consider what the world would like without prisons, and what we could build in their place. Before beginning DJDS, Van Buren founded the public interest design studio FOURM, and earlier this year started BIG Oakland, a new co-working space for minority- and women-owned architecture, engineering, and construction companies. Van Buren previously held positions at Perkins+Will, The Buchan Group, and Eric R. Kuhn & Associates where she completed institutional, educational, and urban design projects around the world. Her portfolio with DJDS includes a handful of peacemaking centers, roving villages, and housing units for youth in both Syracuse and Oakland, among other places. Her latest project is Restore Oakland, a restorative justice and economics center in East Oakland that, when open next spring, will be the first of its kind in the United States. Her team also recently launched the Pop-Up Resource Village in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, which brings resources and dynamic programming to in-need communities of color via mobile architecture and nature. Van Buren believes in the power of design and creative placemaking as means to help keep people out of the jail system and provide room for healing as well as training on the systemic injustices that stem from inequality. “Architecture is a potent medium for shifting and solidifying and fomenting movements,” she said. “We can’t do much without space. We can’t launch movements without a place for us to gather that is safe and nourishing.” Among her many accolades, Van Buren is the only architect to have ever been awarded the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, and she’s also held the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. As part of the Berkeley-Rupp Professorship and Prize, she will be awarded $100,000 and the visiting professorship at UC Berkeley starting next fall. There she’ll focus on a book project and teach an intensive seminar that explores architectural responses for peace-building. She’ll also give a public lecture and hold a gallery exhibition. Past recipients of the Berkeley-Rupp prize include Carme Pinós in 2016, Sheila Kennedy in 2014, and Deborah Berke in 2012.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has been hired to lead design for a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics baseball team. The decision comes after months of speculation over the team’s future in Oakland as the Oakland Raiders professional football team moves forward with a deal to abandon the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—currently shared with the A’s—in order to build a new $1.8 billion stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, designed by Manica Architecture. A handful of plans have been proposed over the last 18 months for the baseball team’s future home, including purchasing the Coliseum site outright from the City of Oakland for $135 million. But the team is keeping its options open: Aside from the Coliseum bid, the team is currently pursuing plans for a brand new ballpark in the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal. https://twitter.com/davekaval/status/1019773158843281409?s=21 The plan for the Howard Terminal site is reportedly favored by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, as it would allow the city to buyout Alameda County’s stake in the jointly-owned Coliseum site. The arrangement would give the city control over a centrally-located public amenity that is already connected to mass transit while passing on the costs of redeveloping Howard Terminal to private coffers. Despite Schaaf’s intentions to purchase the park, however, the mayor recently announced that the city does not have the money to make the purchase itself and is unwilling to commit public funding for the plan. In the past, the A’s were also considering a potential partnership with the Peralta Community College District nearby for a new standalone ballpark, though that fell through earlier this year due to community opposition. Previously, it was thought that HOK was on board to design a new A’s stadium, but the latest announcement seems to have scuttled those ideas. Now, it’ll be BIG, Gensler, and James Corner Field Operations working together to craft the new ballpark and the surrounding areas. “We are honored and excited to team with the Oakland A’s to help imagine their future home where sports culture and local community culture unite as one," Bjarke Ingels told The Architect's Newspaper. "We envision a stadium district that will be active and inviting 365 days a year for athletes, fans, and Oaklanders alike.” Announcing the new design team, A’s president Dave Kaval told the Chronicle, “We wanted a team that could look at the ballpark with a fresh perspective…and this is really a game changer.” https://twitter.com/oakstadiumwatch/status/1019785475555450880?s=21 The announcement was somewhat expected, especially for anyone who has been keeping close tabs on relevant social media channels. Earlier this summer, amid a trip to the Bay Area to check in on construction for the forthcoming Googleplex headquarters, BIG’s founder, Bjarke Ingels, took in an A’s game with Kaval. A flurry of Twitter selfies and Instagram stories from the pair hinted at a potential partnership. BIG is no stranger to working in the Bay Area. As mentioned above, the office based in New York City and Copenhagen is currently working with Heatherwick Studios on a new tent-inspired headquarters for Google. The firm also recently unveiled a scheme to reurbanize sections of Islais Creek with Sherwood and ONE. A planned 242-unit mixed-income housing complex in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood designed by BIG is under construction, as well. Designs for the BIG-led proposal have not been released, though Kaval has stated that the new stadium will be privately financed and will open in time for the 2021–2022 season.
Studio Gang and California College of the Arts (CCA) have unveiled new renderings for a planned three-year expansion of the school’s San Francisco campus. The renderings offer the first glimpse into how the Chicago-based architects will rework the arts college as CCA moves to consolidate its San Francisco and East Bay campuses by taking over a parking lot adjacent to the original school site in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. Renderings depict four rectangular buildings set on an elevated plinth behind the existing school, with a pair of sunken courtyards and lawn spaces populating the areas between the buildings. The concrete-wrapped podium steps down to meet the existing school, leaving a third, block-long courtyard space in between the two structures. The new buildings, according to the renderings, are designed with perimeter circulation wrapping enclosed classroom spaces and feature what looks like heavy timber construction. The buildings are shown with large-scale super truss elements along exterior walls and are topped by solar arrays. CCA’s expansion will also include a residential component by additional architects including Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects that seeks to add up to 1,000 additional beds to the campus’s residential accommodations by 2025. The campus expansion is being designed to house the college’s 2,000 students, 600 faculty members, 250 staff members, and 34 academic programs all one site, as outlined by the school’s “Framing the Future” visioning plan, a scheme developed in 2015 by Gensler and MKthink to guide the school’s next 85 years. Studio Gang beat out Michael Maltzan Architects and Allied Works for the commission in 2016 and the firm is expected to release more information on the expansion later this summer. The full campus is slated to open for the 2020–2021 academic year.
There is hope yet that despite losing the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco, Oakland will be able to keep its professional baseball team in the city over the coming years. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaff signed a select agreement today with the Oakland Athletics that would position the city to deal exclusively with the team as they look for a new home somewhere along the Oakland waterfront. The agreement was announced during a press conference attended by the mayor and team president David Kaval. The Oakland Athletics are currently in the process of figuring out what to do and where to go as their aging stadium—currently shared with the Raiders—prepares to lose the football team in either 2021 or 2022. “We are trying to make sure we retain as many options as possible so we can remain ‘rooted in Oakland,’” Kaval said, according to Mercury News. The city of Oakland currently owns the site of the Oakland Coliseum, the last remaining dual-purpose professional sports stadium in the country, which the Athletics are interested in purchasing outright. The team has expressed interest in the 120-acre site, including the adjacent Oracle Arena basketball stadium, in an effort to establish ownership of their playing facilities. The current facilities are easily accessible to the region’s mass transit system and feature extensive surface parking. Estimates put the cost of buying the property at $135 million. But the athletics are also interested potentially in relocating entirely to a site roughly two miles away called Howard Terminal. Howard Terminal is an existing shipping port that is due for redevelopment. The team has been scoping out a variety of sites in the area as well, including a recently abandoned plan to potentially relocate to the nearby Peralta Community College campus. The scheme was abandoned when its announcement drew forth a great deal of heated opposition when first made public earlier this year. The city’s exclusive agreement allows the municipality to help the Athletics pursue both options concurrently. After today’s meeting, Schaaf said, “I am so excited to be supporting exclusive negotiating agreements at both the Coliseum and at Howard Terminal so that we double our changes to [keep the team].” City and team leaders are hoping to have a final purchase agreement for one of e sites by the end of the year.
After news broke last month that the Oakland A’s had finally settled on a site for their new ballpark at Oakland’s Peralta Community College District, their plans have been derailed after the school decided to cancel negotiations with the team. With plans for the stadium, previously to have been designed by Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK, now potentially derailed, it also remains to be seen if the A’s will remain in Oakland. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square would have led master planning and urban design efforts, alongside building out a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta were to collaborate on the design of the new ballpark, and to make sure that it wouldn’t remain an “insular” experience. So-called “stadium districts” are becoming fairly common around the country, as team owners and designers have been seeking to jumpstart investment around areas that already experience a high amount of foot traffic. Though no renderings had been released, construction was expected to have finished by 2023. While the Peralta Community College site was chosen after a years-long search by the A’s, nothing had been finalized by their decision to put the new stadium there. Besides needing to finalize land negotiations with Peralta, the team had been facing ardent pushback from Chinatown locals worried about gentrification, from the Audubon society over the impact that development would have on bird migration patterns at the nearby Lake Merritt, and from politicians raising other concerns from their constituents. Compounding the problems the A’s were facing, much of the 15-acre site has been contaminated with an unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances and would have needed costly remediation. Although business leaders in Oakland had rallied in support of the investments the new stadium would generate, Peralta’s board of trustees chose to discontinue conversations with the A’s on Tuesday. “We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the A’s said in a statement released this morning. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.” The A’s had already pledged to pay for development out of their own pockets, but this promise was dependent on revenue projections from a new ballpark, not the redevelopment of their existing Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. As the only remaining professional sports team in Oakland, the pressure was on for the A’s to choose a site in the city, but with their top pick off the table, the Athletics could be enticed to leave. As A’s President Dave Kaval recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, there was no “plan B” if Peralta didn’t work out.
A new project under development by Oakland, California–based Lowney Architecture and developer Pinnacle RED aims to bring the East Bay its newest—and tallest—mixed-use tower. The forthcoming 36-story tower will be located at 1261 Harrison Street and will bring 185 apartment units, 120,000 square feet of Class A office space, and 12,000 square feet of commercial uses to downtown Oakland, potentially transforming that city’s downtown Chinatown neighborhood. The 440-foot tower is billed as the city’s only mixed-use tower under development that combines commercial functions with affordable and market-rate housing under one roof. The arrangement is a by-product of the development’s utilization of a density bonus, which allows the developer to build taller and more densely in exchange for providing affordable housing units on-site. The complex will be anchored on the ground floor by a market hall–style food court with a “locavore” focus. The tower is designed along the street to match the massing and “neighborhood rhythm” of surrounding commercial storefronts, according to Ken Lowney, principal at Lowney Architecture. The 11 floors above street level will be occupied by office spaces with the uppermost levels containing condominiums and maisonettes. Lowney told The Architect’s Newspaper that the lower level will house community-serving establishments that could potentially include current retail tenants occupying an existing commercial structure on the site that will give way to the development. Under the potential plan, a local bicycle shop will return to manage the building’s 185-stall bicycle parking facilities, for example. The project provides an automated 185-stall underground garage, though parking is not required for the site. The gridded glass tower complex grows from its contextual base in a canted fashion, splitting into two alternating masses as it rises up. The tower’s bifurcated facades are wrapped in a gridded frame that extends the depth of the building’s curtain walls out from each facade. The non-structural application of these gridded frames is a leftover from earlier design iterations that called for an externally-structured tower. Instead, the building is held up by internal beams and columns, a shear core, and moment frames. The glass panels that infill these frames are decorated with multicolored metal panels that are designed to reference surrounding conditions, with warmer, brick-like tones coloring lower levels and clear-blue panels populating the uppermost sections of the tower. In a statement, Mark Donahue of Lowney Architecture said,“We strove for a distinctive design by breaking up the building’s mass so that it appears as two towers, but is really one structure,” adding that the tower was designed to “match the façades of nearby, character-rich buildings.” The development is currently undergoing planning approval. 1261 Harrison Street is expected to take roughly two years to complete once plans are approved.
The Oakland Athletics have finally settled on a site for their new ballpark, and have hired Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK to not only design the stadium, but to also better integrate it into the surrounding urban fabric. Ending years of contentious debate over where to build, the A’s have chosen the lakeside Peralta Community College District in downtown Oakland, California. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square will lead master planning, urban design efforts, and build a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta will collaborate on the design of the new ballpark and how it interacts with the master plan. No images have been released as of yet, but the team and design firms involved are hoping that the new stadium will catalyze investment along Lake Merritt without alienating the community. “Our goal is to create the best ballpark experience for our fans, players, and community. It is critical for our ballpark to truly integrate into the fabric of Oakland,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, in a press release. Craig Dykers, founding partner at Snøhetta, also stressed that the project wouldn’t be an insular experience. “With its new home closer to downtown Oakland, the project will re-invigorate the relationship between the A’s and the city as a new kind of ballpark that acts as a center for sport, wellness and culture,” he said. Even with the promised outreach, community groups have been opposed to the plan owing to fears of displacement, gentrification, and potential environmental damage to the sensitive estuaries nearby. Another potential wrench in the plan is the presence of hazardous materials in the soil that would need to be remediated. An unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances have seeped into the ground and water at the site over the years, and no one knows how much the clean up will cost. Still, the new stadium will be a step up for the Athletics, set to become the only major league sports team in Oakland after the Raiders leave in 2019. The A's current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a 51-year-old concrete eyesore that the team currently shares with the Raiders, and that regularly floods with sewage when the plumbing backs up. The team claims that the new stadium will be privately funded and put up to $3.05 billion into the local economy, and that construction should finish in 2023.