Create design guidelines that establish shared expectations for both developers and the community about how to integrate community input into project design. These guidelines should create a design process that allows residents and other community members to feel that development and other types of projects contribute to their neighborhood instead of serve only to displace.

  • Design guidelines should layer over the Zoning Code to improve what happens in in the public realm and open spaces created by new development.
  • Desire engaging and unique spaces that express Oakland’s culture and heritage, are healthy, sustainable, enjoyable, and welcoming.
  • Need to clearly communicate a role for community in how buildings and open spaces are designed. Special attention should be paid to integrating marginalized members of the community including Oakland’s BIPOC and disabled residents into design decisions. This likely will involve some capacity building in addition to the guidelines themselves.
  • Design guidelines for sidewalks need to balance traffic, pedestrian/wheelchair access, community and commercial uses, delivery services, multi-modal hubs, patient and caregiver needs.
  • Design throughout Oakland should consider and provide amenities for long-term residents to create spaces that bring Oakland together. Amenities for children are particularly needed.
  • Gateway areas should exemplify Oakland with open spaces, public art, high quality design, and multi-modal hubs that orient visitors and give them access to non-auto travel that reduce congestion within the neighborhood.
  • The Arts, Culture, and Design Technical Advisory Group was convened for four meetings in August and September 2021 to work from the public input received over the course of the planning process and establish the recommendations below.
  • Reiterate that steeply sloped, landslide-prone hillside areas should not be viewed as development sites. People should not consider them to be filled with parking garages or large scale development.
  • Design guidelines should also include strategies for activating first floor commercial spaces to avoid the uses that do not activate the public realm along Fifth/Forbes Avenue, such as conference rooms, workout spaces,etc.
  • IMP's have their own design guidelines.
  • Propose non-traditional guidance to help design teams and developers in create public spaces and design features that are welcoming, unique, eclectic, and provide distinct cultural value. Use St. Pauli Code (Hamburg, Germany) as a key precedent for doing so. This example allows for iteration, planning for the unplanned, and recognizes the constantly changing nature of neighborhoods.
  • Guidelines should be reasonable short, include illustrations, and address specific aspects of development projects that are going to be called for by the Zoning Code amendments. This includes but is not limited to design of open spaces, 20 ft sidewalks on Fifth and Forbes Avenues, inclusion of public art throughout building design, interaction between ground floor uses and the public realm.
  • Organizing principals:
    • Recognize that Oakland is a mixture of separate distinctive areas but work to establish a collective identity.
    • Clearly identify what is unique and beloved about Oakland today and use guidelines to build on this foundation in creative new ways.
    • Express Oakland’s position in the region, state, and country as place where you find excellence in the arts, research, and education.
    • View design and public art as an expression of the activities occurring in the community and also a means of financially supporting local artists.
    • Reinforce plan goals and language around the central importance of inclusion in design and art processes and project components. This includes equitable pay and treatment for all artists. Could include guidance around best practices for integrating artists into the design time, honorariums, agreements, longevity and ownership of art, etc.
    • The process to create the design guidelines should be intentionally structured to help build up capacity in the community to engage collaboratively in design discussions in addition to producing the document.
  • Technical aspects of the proposal:
    • Direct developers away from materials that are known to be short-lived such as EIFS and toward materials that are present already or highly sustainable (including materials reuse).
    • Create linkages between the Design Guidelines and other guidance around public art and design coming out of the Public Art and Civic Design Division at the City of Pittsburgh, Office of Public Art, and Oakland-based organizations such as OBID.
    • Include best practices about the provision of “safe spaces” (physical) for art that can be responsive, meaningful, create dialogue with issues of the time without red tape and too much process.
    • Establish clear guidance for community review processes and how they integrate into the City’s development review process. This could include taking the design guidelines through review by the Zoning and Development Review staff, Contextual Design Advisory Panel, and Planning Commission (approval as guidelines) to link community and city design review.
    • Recommend public engagement goals and processes that can help different components of the Oakland community feel a part of the resulting project.
    • Recommend the use of MOUs and other documentation to clearly state arrangements and outcomes from planning and design processes.
    • In addition to providing guidance on materials, the guidelines should be written in a way that allows for thoughtful and diverse architectural approaches, and should address architectural designs and materials to enhance the architectural quality of Oakland.
    • Include best practices about the provision of Bird Safe Glazing. Bird Safe Glazing is recommended for use on the first sixty (60) feet of the building from the ground floor. It is also recommended above sixty (60) feet, where Intensive Green Roof or Extensive Green Roof exists or trees and vegetation are architecturally integrated into patios or balconies.
    • Include best practices to address a variety of development siting scenarios, including development at various scales being in close proximity to each other and reducing impacts to lower intensity uses.

When to start: 0-2 years

Duration: 6-12 months

Estimated costs: $$ (out of $$$$)

Project lead(s): DCP, Arts and design committee

Project partner(s): OBID, OPDC, PID, CMOA, OPA, art and design faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and CMU, local artists and designers

Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

Examples, illustrations, data