ULI Hines Competition Finalist
Client: City of Oakland
Organizers: Urban Land Institute
Collaborators: Chandani Patel, Pranav Thole, Saad Boujane, Siddarth Somana
Just Oakland places equity at the center of the design to reframe the relationship of divisive infrastructures with the BIPOC community. The freeway is reframed as an urban commons that connects the neighborhood and activates the site to become a resource center and place for justice. The mixed-use development is anchored by cultural expression, affordable housing, and health that drive the growth of the site as a model for marginalized neighborhoods.
History of Resilience
The history of the Nimitz freeway in Oakland is the history of red-lined neighborhoods across the country, where already isolated communities were broken apart by highways. They have come to represent a systematic oppression of the black community that have disproportionately borne the brunt of a regional infrastructure expansion. Rather than begin at the site as it stands today, our approach is to develop a framework of equity that addresses these historic barriers to physical and economic mobility. This allows us to initiate interventions and catalyze opportunities in a just manner, honoring the rich cultural landscape and a community that is already resilient.
Building Trust
The proposal seeks to rebuild trust with the community by reclaiming the sites of existing law enforcement as institutions for restorative justice and resource centers that are run by the community. These include mental health care, homeless resources centers and free clinics, among others that perform the labor of community trust building. Further, the 5th and 6th street sections are transformed into green buffers emanating from Jefferson Park, using the water captured from the freeway to sustain restorative natural spaces. These are programmed as year-round public spaces anchored by the Black Futures museum, a cultural landmark that brings together expressions of the past and future by local artists. The museum weaves through the underpass, interspersed by light-based installations and vibrant landscapes, connecting to other splintered communities in Chinatown and West Oakland..
Catalyzing an Opportunity Landscape
At the scale of the district, the proposal strengthens the connection between the Black Arts Movement business corridor to the north and the Jack London Maker district to the south, by positioning affordable commercial space and retail spaces for makers at this cultural intersection. This leverages the innovation already underway in Oakland driven by black led organizations. The proposal calls for inclusivity through affordable housing and fosters home ownership, reinforcing an investment into the community and home insecure residents. The urban form of the development acknowledges the existing fabric through podium heights, positioning towers to maintain the street scale, and frames the art plaza through a verdant ecological edge.
High quality public transportation is essential to economic mobility, especially to a community that was segregated to benefit the transportation of others. To repair this legacy, an above-ground BART station is introduced on the site along the existing metro line, marking an inflection point in access to public transport networks for the neighborhood. This signals to the city and region a commitment to equitable development as it catalyzes mobility, visibility and a just approach to development.
(Click here) for more information regarding the competition.
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