Chapter Public Service

Railroad Corridor Charrette


On October 27, 2007, The American Institute of Architects, East Bay facilitated a charrette for the Pittsburg Railroad Corridor (on Railroad Blvd.). The charrette focused on a critical corridor that will serve as the connective tissue between a future eBART station and the highly active downtown redevelopment area.The initiative involved solutions and input from community participants, architects and other design professionals for a mixed-use area comprising public parks, low-density housing, small-business buildings and the north-south Railroad Avenue transportation corridor.

In partnership with the City of Pittsburg and UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, the AIA East Bay encouraged community participation in the planning and design process establishing the framework for the redevelopment of Pittsburg’s railroad corridor. According to Railroad Corridor Charrette Chair Steven Winkel, FAIA, “Architects of the AIA East Bay see this as an opportunity to give back to the community. We began this important initiative to add value to people’s everyday lives while taking their local vision and heritage into account.”

Collaborative work began in early 2006 and concluded in 2008. With mutual buy-in, city officials and the AIA East Bay sought the participation of graduate students at UC Berkeley’s College for Environmental Design. While student participation at this level is not a traditional practice, Winkel and Pittsburg leaders saw great value in involving graduate students to conduct preliminary field and data analysis. Students made feasibility, development and implementation recommendations as part of a graduate studio taught by Professors Michael Southworth and Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA. During the charette, Lyndon presented an overview of fundamental urban design principals for community members to work with the design teams.

Pittsburg’s past-Mayor Michael Kee, AIA, stated, “We’ve put a lot of focus into this project. The city hopes to draw upon and harness community involvement and energy to see the railroad corridor take on a vital role in our community. The intent is to help cultivate rapid turnaround and success for this vital area of our community within the next few years.”

Downtown Oakland Planning and Design Workshop

  • In June 1997 the AIA East Bay Housing and Neighborhood Design Committee organized a development planning workshop in the Uptown district.
  • Design professionals, local business owners, developers, and city staff explored: planning, urban design, and historic preservation; management and marketing; and development financing.
  • A report detailing the workshop scenarios and recommendations was made available to developers responding to city RFPs for the Fox Theater and surrounding district.

Post-Earthquake Housing Recovery Workshop

  • In November 1996, AIA East Bay, The State Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) coordinated a charette to address housing and neighborhood recovery strategies after a major earthquake on the Hayward fault.
  • A report was issued by OES in February 1997 detailing the workshop recommendations, as part of a larger Earthquake Program effort by OES.

Pulling Downtown Oakland Together: an architectural exhibit and symposium

  • In April 1996, the AIA East Bay Housing and Neighborhood Design Committee, with assistance from the City of Oakland, organized an architectural exhibit and symposium entitled Pulling Downtown Oakland Together showcasing the architecture and urban design of buildings recently completed and currently under development in Oakland’s Downtown.
  • The exhibit included a masterplan map of these developments, and the identification of sites available for further development.
  • The symposium brought together architects, planners, developers, bankers, city officials, local residents, and community groups to focus on how architecture, urban design, and planning can help revitalize Oakland’s downtown.

YIMBY (Yes! In My Back Yard’) Affordable Housing Education Program

  • In 1992, the AIA East Bay Housing Committee initiated an education program to promote affordable housing in the East Bay.
  • The program included a traveling exhibit, tours, speakers, a booklet and a slide library.
  • Since 1995, the Committee has collaborated with East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) on Affordable Housing Week, which includes exhibits in multiple locations, tours of affordable housing, annual booklets exploring affordable housing issues, and lobbying local, state, and federal governments for additional funding.

The Oakland/Berkeley Fire

On October 20, 1991 over 3,000 homes were destroyed by fire in the Oakland/Berkeley hills.

  • The AIA East Bay Planning Zoning and Design Task Force, together with AIA California Council (AIACC), organized a California Emergency Design Assistance Team (CEDAT) to assist the community in defining how the reconstruction should take place.
  • Several intensive workshops summarized the comments of hundreds of survivors into a document, “Community Voices: A Resource Guide for Rebuilding” that was used as a resource for the reconstruction of homes and neighborhoods.
  • Recommendations from the CEDAT process were included in the final City of Oakland design review checklist.

1989 Earthquake

On October 17, 1989 an earthquake severely damaged a number of buildings in Downtown Oakland including City Hall and several other significant buildings.

  • The AIA East Bay organized a charette, consisting of design professionals, City staff and others to develop ideas about how to rebuild or replace City Hall and the surrounding buildings. Key considerations were the preservation of historic buildings, and the restoration of a range of downtown housing types.
  • AIA East Bay, along with Oakland Heritage Alliance and others, formed the Oakland Preservation Assistance Team (OPAT) to assist owners of damaged buildings find funding and technical help to repair and reoccupy their buildings.