The West Oakland neighborhood was once filled with industrial factories and houses for dockworkers and warehouse workers. In the early 20th century, the area lost vitality as industries moved to other locations. The space was littered with abandoned warehouses, raised freeways and rail lines.
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In an effort to transform one of the many contaminated brownfields and leverage the location’s proximity to transit centers, designers sought to build housing units, parks, and commercial spaces to create a new “Central Station” neighborhood just half a mile from Downtown Oakland. Pacific Cannery Lofts was one of the first elements of the greater vision.
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The Pacific Cannery Lofts project had three main goals: contribute to the environmental and social value of the community, create a space for mental restoration from the urban setting, and become a place of cultural significance for West Oakland.
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City streets that used to terminate at the project now extend through the space. This evokes feelings of the urban grid system throughout the lofts and avoids a cloistered effect. The streets become pedestrian walkways, increasing access within the space and maintaining sight lines to the city beyond.
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Three courtyards filled with tropical trees and plants are nestled among the loft buildings to create both public and private outdoor space. Each garden contains private patios, along with interspersed tables and benches that encourage informal interactions and increase social sustainability.
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Each of the three courtyards has a distinct style and theme, adding interest and originality to the landscape. Japanese maples, limestone monoliths, and garden boardwalk give this one an Asian sensibility, honoring the cultural heritage of the cannery’s original owner.
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Pacific Cannery lofts features a grove garden that includes edible bananas and grapevines, seen here, along with other citrus and fruit trees. Locally grown fruits and vegetables create a sustainable food source in this urban environment.
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Throughout the project, abandoned equipment and structures were recycled and showcased. Ten-foot steel wheels and plate control switch panels add to the historical character of the space. Reusing these resources artfully prevented the materials from entering a landfill.
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Rainwater from the roof flows into pebble-filled aqueducts, which then spill into two recycled tumbled-glass infiltration 'rivers' along side the main walkway. This system recharges the local aquifer. At night, lights underneath the recycled glass rivers illuminate the paths.
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