From two parcels of a vacant 8-acre parking lot, we created three buildings, a community of homes for Oakland’s young professionals and families: 400 apartment units connected to a major transit line, with easy walking access to buses and shuttles and bike parking. Each building has a different vibe. Each responds in its own way, from active to private, to the surrounding neighborhood. Combined, they make up the conditions that support healthier living.
The building against the BART station mimics the movement of transit. On the façade, green, grey, and black patterns dance playfully like cars zipping by, a highly visible “billboard” that draws visitors in with vibrant colors and materials. Inside, the individual units are efficient, clean, modern, and cool; upstairs on the rooftop, a lounge presents views of the city.
The courtyard building, the largest in MacArthur Commons, offers its residents larger units and extra space, along with plenty of ground-floor retail. Comfortable and private within, the exterior is all about corners and activating Telegraph Avenue: A simple palette of strong, white corners and balconies attracts passersby.
The corner building’s strong presence moves from urban/public—meeting the energy of the BART station—then tapers to more private residences on a quieter residential side street. At the busy corner, a bold red color at the walk-up units slowly disperses to the less-trafficked side residences, whose balconies and opportunities for respite echo a mix of retail space and residential support services.
Shared by all three buildings, the commons mews offers a buffer from the highway, with an outside kitchen (complete with a barbecue, of course) and raised planting beds. Our design for this public space encapsulates our plan for MacArthur Commons overall: To catalyze this neighborhood’s development through new architecture that fits in while standing out, by enhancing the quirkiness and character that’s already here.