Landscape architecture must help our communities confront the coming challenges of our era even with decreasing municipal financial resources. Respect, restraint, and honesty should be valued above the panacea approach which has been the trend of practice in recent years. The project is for a site in a neglected corner of poverty-striken West Oakland. Here, disenfranchised communities are suffering displacement to accommodate a growing high income tech workforce while sea level rise and particulate pollution disproportionately affect the same minority neighborhoods. An abandoned and collapsing historic (1912) Beaux Arts train station sits in an empty field upon toxic bay fill, aside one of the largest freeways in the country (I-80). How can Oakland realistically pay to remediate this building which has been declared too expensive to repair, improve air quality in heavily impacted neighborhoods, and also create a park that pays homage to this grand building? Minimalism and a preference for maintenance before trending formalisms guides the project.
Currently, the site is guarded 24/7 by a paid security guard. The real position demanded for the site is that of a caretaker. This move drives all formal design logic in addition to site program. The site is maintained in an agrarian tradition that extends in time to productive forests of the early French tradition, but is wholly modern in its planting approach and intents. Formal moves are allowed to show the participation of local craftspeople and all materials are found on site. The project seeks to ameliorate the major environmental and social challenges to West Oakland. Sustainability is found in the mitigation of particulate pollution, phytoremediation of the soil, prevention of scheduled high-end development which would irreparable change neighborhood character, and the marcation of rising tides that will threaten this neighborhood with demonstrable shifts in the landscape overtime. Not a science kit, but a process, and the drawings and proposal here suggest the humble and important future which lies ahead for our trade.
"A humble and appropriate solution to a lost landscape, transforming it into a serene stetting. It is both place-specific and dream-like, with powerful imagery. Love how it relies on time for its ultimate destiny, so process is visible and visceral."
- 2014 Awards Jury