downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Facade Watch: Modernism in the DTO

February 8, 2008

The first of the post-dot-bomb 10k projects are nearing completion in downtown Oakland. In a break from tepid and bland buildings of the recent past (555 12th St, Center 21, most projects in and around Old Oakland), many of these new buildings are unflinchingly modern in style. The three newest are refreshingly forward-thinking additions to their various neighborhoods. After the break, descriptions and photos.

Forest City Uptown
The first building in Forest City’s mammoth 665-unit Uptown apartment complex is now leasing. Across San Pablo from a nicely restored Victorian commercial block, the William has a simple, sleek façade of red stucco and smooth aluminum. Though refreshingly spare, the use of aluminum is consistent with its Art Deco neighbors, particularly the Floral Depot Building. The frontage along 19th Street breaks up the building mass into what looks like two separate structures, more successfully than Broadway Grand.



Madison LoftsDerisively called “tenements” by anti-development neighbors, this 76-unit, eight-story Affordable Housing Associates project is aimed at low-income families and youth. The playful window arrangement and colorful metal sheeting make an exciting and urbane façade, although the City Council asked that the design be less “modern” when they approved it. Housing projects in the area are controversial, so I provide an example of the context below. Directly across from my vantage point, but out of the picture, is the eight story Jackson Lofts, or “Trojan Tower,” so nicknamed because of its allegedly inappropriate height. That building is currently in construction limbo.



Dwell@901The latest Old Oakland project by downtown-based developer AF Evans is Dwell@901, which is an attempt to provide affordable housing in a market-driven framework. Dwell’s renderings were very pleasing, and I admired the restraint of Market Square, another AF Evans project. Now that the structure is complete and the façade is under construction, I am not disappointed.


I’m pleased to see restrained, modernist architecture overtaking the confused psuedo-historicism of 90s buildings. Colorful but simple building facades work well in cheery, sunny downtown Oakland. The building below is two blocks on 14th from the Madison Lofts.


1 Random Oakland Thoughts « Living in the O { 02.12.08 at 2:33 am }

[...] a lighter note, the DTO is back, with a post about the modern apartment complexes that are being completed in downtown Oakland. The pictures and [...]

2 Steve R. { 02.12.08 at 7:32 pm }

I think that building is called the Trojan Tower because it’s covered… Too bad it’s having problems, however, it would be a nice addition to the neighborhood–and more moderne in style.