Our Upcoming Events
Latham Square Project
Latham Square is a prominent and architecturally important intersection in the City of Oakland:
- Located at the intersection of two of the most significant streets in Oakland (Telegraph Avenue & Broadway)
- Gateway to the emerging Uptown neighborhood and entertainment district
- Flanked by the Rotunda and Cathedral buildings, two of the best local examples of early 20th century architecture
Despite this prime location, Latham Square is currently dominated by automobile traffic due to the need to serve trips from both Broadway and Telegraph, and the awkward angle of the intersection.
To address these needs, the City of Oakland Public Works Agency is currently working on a design to reconfigure and rehabilitate Latham Square in 2014. The design and construction are being funded through a Proposition 1-C grant from the State of California.
To inform the design of this important space, the City installed a pilot project to test the impact of possibly closing some or all of the existing street area to automobile traffic and opening it for pedestrian use. The pilot was installed in July 2013 and is currently in place. The pilot project allows for real-world observation of traffic flow, and a better understanding of how the plaza can be designed to maximize its potential as a pedestrian space.
Permanent Latham Square Plaza Project
While the pilot Plaza is being enjoyed and evaluated, the City of Oakland is designing a permanent reconstruction of Latham Square using high-quality and long-lasting materials. The permanent design may result in some or all automobile traffic being removed from the area, as is being explored through the Latham Square pilot. The basic principles for the permanent Plaza were developed through the 2004 Downtown Streetscape Master Plan, and will help to accomplish several longstanding goals to support economic development in Downtown and Uptown. The basic principles will seek to enhance the experience for all users by:
- Creating a larger functional plaza space for daily use and special events
- Highlighting and restoring the Latham Square fountain
- Designing roadways and intersections with bicyclist and pedestrian safety in mind
- Improving traffic safety and operations
- Balancing the need for metered parking spaces
- Retaining and improving on the existing landscaping and trees as well as the important historical aspects of the square
The permanent Latham Square Plaza project is currently in the conceptual design phase. The City and a Technical Advisory Committee (consisting of City staff and local business owners, residents and advocacy groups) have been reviewing and considering different conceptual design configurations of the Plaza and intersecting roadways.
How to Get Involved
The City is holding community meetings to hear your thoughts and comments on the Pilot Plaza.
- Community Meeting #2 will be held: November 20, 2013 (download flyer).
- Community Meeting #1 was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 (download flyer).
- An informational report on the results of the pilot project and an update on the permanent conceptual design will be presented to City Council at the Council Meetings in late Fall 2013. City staff will provide Council with permanent design recommendations based on the pilot project and on the ability to deliver the project in time to meet the grant deadline.
- The pilot experimented with full closure to vehicular traffic through the month of September and then opened the southbound Telegraph Avenue side to vehicles in early October to test a limited traffic configuration.
- Construction on the permanent Plaza is anticipated to begin in Summer of 2014.
- The Proposition 1-C grant funding requires the City to complete ALL construction work by the end of 2014. This requires completion of the design by March 2014.
Latham Square Pilot Plaza Project
The Latham Square pilot Plaza is open for the public to use and enjoy! The Downtown Oakland Association is managing operation of the pilot, and is soliciting feedback from users to enhance their experience in Latham Square. Please provide your feedback. Your comments and suggestions will be used to adjust and enhance the pilot project as well as inform the design of the permanent Plaza.
The pilot project built on Latham Square's significance by creating an enhanced pedestrian space through State of California Proposition 1-C grant funding to create a low-cost trial that; enhances the pedestrian environment; increases economic development potential; saves existing trees; and improves private automobile and transit operations.
The pilot Plaza:
- For two months, converted existing Telegraph Avenue roadbed south of 16th Street to pedestrian-only space through the use of temporary surface treatments and perimeter planters/bollards, and in the second phase opened one lane to southbound traffic
- Uses low-cost, temporary materials, similar to the New York City DOT in its successful pedestrian plaza program, and subsequently by the San Francisco Planning Department's Pavement to Parks program
- Re-uses high quality reclaimed materials from the City's maintenance yards where possible
- Incorporates attractive planters and bollards to separate the pedestrian plaza from adjacent street traffic
- Provides flexible space provided for a range of urban design enhancements, including seating, landscaping and other amenities
See the full design details!
10/1/13 Update: In March, the Council approved a six-month pilot project to assess the potential effectiveness of closing Latham Square to vehicular traffic and create a pedestrian plaza. Part of the analysis was to have included full and partial closure of the area, and to test new ways the City might reshape the urban environment to enliven downtown and support local business and resident use of the area. The first phase included complete closure of Telegraph Avenue and installation of a sign, seating, trees, and plants. The project is now entering a second phase of experimentation, which includes opening Telegraph Avenue to one-way southbound traffic and rearrangement of some elements of the plaza. In particular, the partial closure in place now has the following features:
- provides direct access to the Rotunda Building from Telegraph Avenue
- reduces left-turns (and associated queuing issues) from Telegraph Avenue to 17th Street
- maintains the seating and landscaping associated with the pilot project
- prevents the unsignalized, high-speed left-turn from Broadway to Telegraph Avenue
- reduces the total size of usable pedestrian space
- increases traffic volumes immediately adjacent to the pedestrian plaza
Thanks for your patience as the experiment continues!
Community Design Process
The City of Oakland worked closely with local stakeholders on the plaza design and traffic circulation. Outreach activities included: over 25 individual meetings with local businesses, property owners, residents and other stakeholders; and public presentations to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and Oakland Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
City staff also held a four-hour community design workshop on Saturday, February 23. Over 100 participants attended and an overwhelming majority expressed strong support. Workshop participants were invited to fill out a survey (over 50 were returned) and/or make design suggestions on 11x17 maps of the plaza area (over 40 designs were received). The survey results and design input played a critical role in the design of the Pilot. In particular, respondents were clear on the need not only for pedestrian space in the plaza (e.g., seating), but also events to ensure that the space is vibrant and well-used. Responses included ideas to use the space for runway shows, musical performances, food trucks, public art, theater performances and more.
Based on the results of the design process, Oakland City Council passed a Resolution in May 2013 authorizing the pilot project.
Events & Programming
See the Downtown Oakland Association's Latham Square website for more information on programmed events.
Friday, August 16: The Pilot Plaza's Grand Opening (pictured) was held on with an estimated 200 people in attendance.
Materials will be posted in this section as they become available.
- Pilot Project summary sheet
- Pilot Project Introductory Presentation
- February 23rd Community Design Workshop Invitation
- Community Design Workshop Boards (5+ mb)
- History Boards: See Latham Square through the ages! (7+ mb)
- Stakeholder Design Meeting Presentation
- Final Pilot Project Construction Bid Set
- City Council Resolution and Staff Report for Pilot Project
- September 14, 2013 Community Design Workshop Presentation (5+ mb)
Additional Pedestrian Plaza Information
- San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program
- Article on 17th/Castro Plaza in San Francisco
- New York City Pedestrian Plaza Program
- Press Release on New York City’s Design Competition for temporary plazas
- Video of Gansevoort Plaza transformation in New York City
- Article on Sunset Triangle Plaza in Los Angeles
- See the Downtown Oakland Association's Latham Square website for information on programmed events.