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Published by Greg Baker

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Published by: Greg Baker on Nov 01, 2011
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This research focuses on the division of a community based on infrastructural goals of acity whose main economic source had become obsolete. Oakland, California was the endof the Southern Pacic railroad, and the neighborhood of West Oakland where the stationwas located is now a collection of smaller enclaves among a network of freeways, borderedby a light rail line and state buildings. The corner of Twelfth and Brush streets is a strip ofland located in a marginalized historic district with high visibility from the freeway feedingdowntown, offering an opportunity to memorialize the struggle of West Oakland while at thesame time attracting the attention of workers commuting into downtown from the suburbs.The problem with the kind of redevelopment taking place is that the shoppingmalls and condominiums and public art do not communicate anything about the vibrantcommunity that once existed there as part of the industrial culture that was destroyed.“Physical destruction for new transportation routes shaped people’s mental and emotionalmaps of West Oakland... ‘putting in the freeway [Grove-Shafter] meant razing houses anddestroying the neighborhood’ (
 American Babylon
, Self. p 158).” Architects and developersare working to make the nancing of these projects come to fruition and are not concernedwith the lessons of modernism. Highly criticized for making cities unlivable, modernistideology called for the separation of the city according to land use. Rather than integratingthe redevelopment projects along the coast of the San Francisco Bay into the rest of theurban fabric, there is a commercial center in Emeryville and a residential center in WestOakland, with the freeway system as the main link between these places and out to the restof the bay.One analytical lens that acutely focuses the topic of this research is the tactics of theSituationists. Through the techniques of drifting about and creating spectacles in the parts ofParis slated for redevelopment, they sought to spread public awareness of so-called blightedareas that are actually thriving and full of working class life. Situationist methods activelypoliticized urban conditions and, according to some authors, “in such formulations, the cityand its architecture become not just aesthetic objects but dynamic, practical relizations ofart, unique and irreplaceable “works” and not reproducible products–polyrhythmic composi-tions of linear and cyclical times and different social spaces, born from many labors (“Things,Flows, Filters, Tactics.”
The Unknown City
. Bordan, Rendell, Kerr, and Pivaro. pp 16-17).” Thatthese many time-spaces as they exist(ed) in the city become ‘urban art’ in this way maynot be enough for West Oakland to recover from the economic forces as they have playedout, it will be essential to create a public awareness of the racial segregation that continuesthrough these new projects. How, then, can an architectural solution capture the essence ofthese time-spaces in West Oakland?
From my vantage point overlooking Pill Hill in Oakland, I feel a serene sense of calm. Iam also overlooking the main axis from downtown Oakland off to the hills, UC Berkeley, andCCA’s main campus: Broadway. In the section where I live, the street has been renamedBroadway Auto Row. The car dealerships that used to be where the Whole Foods Market islocated are all here now. There are also a number of auto mechanic and auto body shopshere. The close proximity of residential, commercial, and industrial uses has been a major part of Oakland’s development. When it was chosen as the terminal point for the SouthernPacic, what was once the largest Oak grove in the United States began its rapid transfor-mation.The other main axis in Oakland was Seventh Street, leading along the waterfront fromdowntown to the Point. The Point is now known for the underground tube of the Bay AreaRapid Transit (BART) light rail system that links San Francisco to the East Bay, but it was oncea vast, bustling railyard. The wealthy, especially owners of downtown real estate and relo-cators from the 1906 earthquake, immediately settled in the hills in Piedmont and areas thatwere soon annexed by Oakland. They were eeing the new industrial landscape, but alsofound bedrock that is more stable in an earthquake and better views. Because of this, Oak-land’s geological stratication is linked to its social stratication.USGS online spatial data for Google Earth

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