Architecture and Urban Design at home

As an Oaklander for over a decade, the current state of my city is a source of both pride and anxiety.

As an Architect, I believe that the city we build and build upon is a representation of us. The territory created by our streets, open spaces, homes, businesses and civic buildings presents us with a landscape charged with potential; potential to have real places of meaning, authentic places that are not solely based upon transplanted precedents, environments that can support and indeed hinder how or how well we choose to live.

Local pride

What’s not to love? Home prices and rents that are still “affordable” by Bay Area standards, the sweet spot in terms of weather between the fog and chilly summers in San Francisco or the seasonal extremes of heat and cold further east, and a thriving food and arts scene- the list of Oakland’s ‘draws’ goes on. On the one hand, the Town [finally!] looks attractive to new development. On the other, the fits and starts of the past [thankfully!} have sheltered and preserved some of our distinctive buildings and neighborhoods. It’s an exciting time for me to live in Oakland, both witnessing and participating in its maturation as a city as an architect and as a citizen. 

Anxiety by the bay

Is new development making Oakland less Oakland? Why do we continue to have a bad rap? Historically, why- when Oakland has been the hub of our regional public transportation and freeway systems- hasn’t more of everything happened here? For those considering to invest here, is it still a gamble based on potential ROI, crime, foot traffic, or other factors? If we build it, will they come? Will people still shop, do business, and recreate elsewhere if given the choice? Choices are being made about the future of our city, and the results are already materializing. As I look around I have reasons both to celebrate and worry.