Temporary Pedestrian Plaza Features Landscaping, Seating and Local Retail
Oakland, CA, August 12, 2013– The City of Oakland, in partnership with the Downtown Oakland Association,will open a new, temporary pedestrian plaza this week at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph Avenue. The plaza is located at the historic Latham Square, and converts Telegraph Avenue south of 16th Street to pedestrian-only space through the use of temporary perimeter planters/bollards. The City and Downtown Oakland Association will host a celebration at noon on August 16 to commemorate the opening.
The plaza is a temporary, pilot project, helping the City explore new ways to use and activate its public space, and will remain in place for six months to one year. The success of the pilot project will inform permanent improvements to the intersection by the City to create a new public space.
To fill the new plaza, the City worked with Rebar Group, an art and design studio with a passion for reimagining public spaces. The final design incorporates native landscaping of the existing Telegraph Avenue median, a painted street surface, trees, seating and a large “Latham” sign constructed partially of reclaimed street signs from throughout Oakland. Most plaza elements are mobile to allow the configuration of the public space to evolve over time.
Matthew Passmore, principal at Rebar and lead designer for Latham Square, was astounded when he first saw the intersection. “You’ve got beautiful historic architecture but it’s totally disconnected from the streets, which have this bizarre 1960’s automobile-age geometry,” Passmore said. “The goal is to reconnect the public space on the street to the surrounding urban fabric, which is really breathtaking.”
In addition, the plaza design incorporates space for several small-scale retail stalls. The City plans to partner with Popuphood, an Oakland based social enterprise that works at the intersection of urban design and creative engagement to curate and market Latham Square on a rotating basis starting this fall as an extension of their incubation program for small businesses.
Downtown Oakland Association, a community benefit district funded by property owners, will provide ongoing maintenance of the newly constructed plaza and will also assist the City in coordinating events within the space.
“We look forward to collaborating with the City in this public/private partnership and are happy to deploy some of our resources to maintain another beautiful pedestrian environment in downtown Oakland for the benefit of residents, visitors, the City and the employees of the many businesses based here,” said District Services Manager Andrew Jones of the Downtown Oakland Association.
The final design reflects months of community outreach, including a public design workshop attended by over 100 people inFebruary 2013 and over 25 individual meetings with local stakeholders. The City also conducted a traffic study of the circulation changes, finding no major effects from the closure.
The pilot will last for up to one year, with on-going evaluation of the impact of the Plaza on local businesses and downtown circulation. For more information, including project background and design details, please visit the project website at www.oaklandnet.com/LathamSquare.
The Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt/Uptown District Associations were formed in February 2009. Property owners in both Downtown Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown Districts voted by a margin of almost 8 to 1 to support a voluntary property tax to fund services that would improve the quality of life in their respective communities. The associations meet and function jointly. Services funded by these Districts include maintaining cleanliness and order in the public rights of way, improving district identity and advocating on behalf of the area’s property owners, business owners and residents.