Wood Park – Oakland, CA

Step One: Getting to know the site and clients
Step Two: Sketches and brainstorming
Step Three: Final drawings
Step Four: Presentations to elected officials and community members

Step One

Wood Park is a rather large, underused public space in Oakland. The park is actually a giant sinkhole left over from the reservoir collapsing an entire neighborhood block. Yikes! The park has a large playing field used by neighborhood sports groups. There is an ancient, cracked and ugly blacktop area with a few benches, many many invasive plants and a culverted creek. Involved neighbors and the local friends of the creek group do much to maintain and improve the park, taking out invasives, adding natives, and encouraging community involvement.

A few summers ago an intrepid neighbor, intent on enhancing the park for the local children, installed a large wooden play structure, guerrilla style. Good for her! In the time that the play structure was there the neighbors noticed a uptick in park use by families and a decrease in drug detritus and prostitution.

However, installing an unregulated, unapproved play structure in a public park was not a thing destined to survive. The structure was reported to the city and removed.

A group of involved and community minded locals got together with local elected officials to come up with a solution to improve the park. Signatures were obtained, grants granted, and meetings were met. When they were ready to move forward I was called in to facilitate the planning and design phase.

The first step was for me to visit the site. By taking pictures, sketching, and identifying existing plants I got a good feel for the site and we were able to move forward and talk about what elements they wanted to include. With their list and my own additions and the roughest of rough sketches I met with the group to do more concrete brainstorming.

Step Two

I love brainstorming because it’s a time to dream big and not worry about site limitations, regulations, etc. Whittling the ideas down to more practical level is fun too and always a design challenge full of compromises.

Step Three

sketches, plan view, and perspectives

Step Four

Once that was completed I drew up neater drawings including some fun and colorful presentation drawings for meetings with officials and community members. This was my first time doing this and I imitated the lovely design style of Rusty Keeler. Imitation! the sincerest form of flattery. :)

  • Earth Day – Community park work day and unveiling of playscape design and concept.


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