A 4.5 mile pedestrian/bicycle/transit "greenway" of existing city streets linking together 23 parks and 23 public places from Lake Merritt to Central Station.

The West Oakland Walk Proposal (W.O.W.)

Concept

The West Oakland Walk is an urban design proposal that knits together the parks and public places of Central and West Oakland by improving a 4.5 mile loop of existing city streets into an urban greenway running East – West from Lake Merritt at the center of the City to Central Station at its western edge. The West Oakland Walk is a project created by Philip Banta in association with Norman Hooks, two architects with long standing design and building experience in the Oakland community. This is an urban connectivity concept to leverage central City assets into an improved “social circuit” for walking, biking, organic gardening, exercising, meeting friends, and community events, all the activities that build sustainable communities. It developed from our pro-bono work for Raimondi Park which resulted in major sports field renovations. Between these two points currently exist 23 parks (totaling 154 acres), the civic, commercial, and cultural downtown core of Oakland including many of the City’s most historically significant buildings, 4 BART stops, and 7 freeway entrances and exits from the major regional artery (Interstate 980) that connects Oakland to the broader Bay Area. It has been extensively presented across the City and won endorsements from the Local Neighborhoods, Community Groups, the City Government, the Business Community, and the Arts and Performance Communities.

Benefits

With a simple geometric stroke the West Oakland Walk could:

  • Re-unite West and Central Oakland across the 980 Freeway divide.

  • Reinforce the Community with a sustainability pathway that celebrates the history and place of each neighborhood it passes through;  

  • Redefine Oakland to itself and to the rest of the world as a coherent network of Parks, Places and People.

  • Re-new the City’s commitment to create healthy options for the community by inviting its members to get outside to walk, bicycle, exercise, socialize, and connect along The West Oakland Walk.

Found Design

Few downtown cores are endowed with the particular combination of public park space, public service structures and historical legacies enjoyed by the City of Oakland, and fewer still have them arranged in patterns that can be so easily linked. The parks have been long established; the civic and institutional buildings have been serving the City for decades; the streets that connect these assets exist now. In other words, no significant capital investment or Eminent Domain action is required for this idea to take shape.

The West Oakland Walk is a found design that will help transform the way people see and use Oakland. Along this pathway all the elements that make a city great are in place waiting to be laced together.

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