SECURITY WAS NO SMALL matter in the redevelopment of this 22-acre site just north of Oakland's Coliseum Gardens BART station. In its previous incarnation, the parcel's gritty patchwork of vacant industrial lots and derelict public-housing projects had been a hotbed for illicit activity.
The antidote, conceived by Pyatok Architects, is an inside-out approach that eliminates back-alley syndrome. Phases 1 and 2 comprise triangular clusters of stacked townhomes over flats that face outward on all three sides, giving residents full surveillance of the public realm via front porches and bay windows. Outdoor courtyards in the center of each cluster are accessible only through the residences. Cars enter each enclave through secure auto courts and are stored in tuck-under parking. The spicy Mediterranean-Craftsman–style units, clad in low-maintenance stucco and fiber cement, offer up to five bedrooms to accommodate multigenerational households.
As in all affordable projects, cost controls were imperative. “With the walk-up environment, we achieved the required density without having to go to elevators or corridors, which are expensive,” says architect Michael Pyatok. In addition, secure parking eliminated the need for garage doors, which translated to savings, he says.
Creating ties with adjacent neighborhoods (both existing and those slated for future development) was also a priority. In rethinking the overall site plan, Pyatok replaced two small, disconnected public parks with a 7-acre central green space, the south end of which funnels into a connector street. A concrete channelized creek along the park's north edge was restored and re-vegetated with a natural embankment. “Often when you have these densities in affordable housing, you accommodate kids under age six with small tot lots, but there is nowhere for older kids to play,” Pyatok observes. “With the central park, all kids are accommodated within walking distance of their homes.”
Category: Site plan; Entrant/Architect/Land planner: Pyatok Architects, Oakland, Calif.; Builder: Cahill Construction, San Francisco; Developer: The Related Cos., Irvine, Calif.; Landscape architect: Keller Mitchell, Oakland
Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.