<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Oakland Plaza Building
Oakland Civic Center
Circa 1913

City of Oakland

Seismic Upgrade, Restoration

$2.1 million


1995 - before renovation
Shockingly modern in 1913, the Plaza Building's four upper stories of brick seemed to defy gravity above a delicate three-story glass storefront, reflecting the desire of the city to rise above the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. By 1995, the damaged and vacant building was in need of seismic strengthening and a restored exterior.


Built in 1913, and damaged in 1989 by the Loma Prieta earthquake, renovation was required for this historic building located in downtown Oakland. The Plaza Building is a seven story steel frame building with masonry infill walls. The building has an irregular trapezoidal shape with less than 2,000 square feet of usable space per floor.

The original 1913 building had an unusual glass curtain wall for the first three floors, with more traditional brick and terra-cotta construction above. Subsequent remodels had compromised the integrity of the curtain wall by adding wood framed operable windows. In addition, the terra-cotta was painted black, as were the sheet metal cornices and wood window sashes.

The goals of the seismic upgrade were negotiated with the city of Oakland to determine the appropriate response to maximize the buildingís performance in the event of an earthquake. The goals of the exterior renovation were to bring this building to a level comparible with the Downtown Historic District and adjacent City Administration Building Complex. This work included brick pointing & replacement, sheet metal cornice repair, correction of water damage and removing lead paint from the terra-cotta.

In addition, a new storefront facade at the lower three floors emulates the original storefront from 1913 with a dark base with ornamental sheet metal. All of the work that affected the exterior of the building was negotiated with the Oakland Landmarks Board prior to construction, and verified in the field during construction to confirm color selection, fitness of materials and conformance to historical design criteria.