Oakland Museum of California

Mark Cavagnero Associates

Client: Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California opened in 1969 with a backdrop of historic civil rights events. The brutalist landmark museum, designed by Kevin Roche was entirely enclosed by concrete walls surrounding the 4-block site. The program for the recent renovation was to “break the box” establishing new connections between the museum and the surrounding neighborhood to promote more equitable access to one of Oakland’s premier public spaces and outdoor art collections.

Mark Cavagnero Associates worked collaboratively with Hood Design Studio of Oakland creating a new entry to the re-envisioned garden at the northeast corner of the property finally connecting the museum to Lake Merritt directly across the street. The garden and 10th Street improvements support OMCA’s free and popular Friday Night events, which have catalyzed the museum’s role as a hub of community engagement and activity. The new garden stage and improvements to the 10th Street Amphitheater facilitate these and other community events such as the Lunar New Year and El Dia de los Muertos celebrations that OMCA holds each year.

Every aspect of the renovation supports OMCA’s mission of inclusion and diversity. Local minority-owned businesses were engaged during the construction and Oakland chef Tanya Holland will operate the renovated café. Giving back to Oakland and telling the stories of underrepresented communities is at the core of OMCA’s mission and underpinned the design. Instead of putting up walls, OMCA is opening them up to embrace their audience, which is one of the most diverse in the country.

Additional Credits: Landscape Architecture and Garden Master Plan – Hood Design Studio; Owner’s Representative – Equity Community Builders; General Contractor – Cahill Contractors; Structural – Forell Elsesser Engineers; MEP – Point Energy Innovations; Lighting Design – Aurbach Glasow; Acoustics and AV – Salter Associates; Specifications – Emily Borleand Specifications; Waterproofing – Wiss Janney Elstner Associates and Terracon