The Museum and the City

Reimagining the Oakland Museum of California and Its Neighborhoods

An Interdisciplinary Studio COURSE sponsored by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative in partnership with the oakland museum of california, Laney college and SPUR Oakland

Fall 2016

LDARCH C203/CY PLAN C243
MW 2-6 pm; 5 units
Wurster 315D
Professor Walter Hood, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design, David K. Woo Chair in Environmental Design

Applications due August 19, 2016 for non-MLA and non-MCP students (see details below)

This graduate-level studio course will provide an opportunity for students from the arts and humanities, the environmental design disciplines, and other divisions and schools across campus to work together to investigate the relationship of a major cultural institution with its urban surroundings, and to propose physical and programmatic changes to those relationships. 

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a downtown institution with deep local roots, a diverse patronage, and a mission to serve as a place for community dialogue, knowledge and education. It sits on the edge of Lake Merritt, close to Oakland’s Civic Center, and is surrounded by ethnically diverse, rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. Districts near the museum include Chinatown, Lakeside, Downtown, and Uptown.  Although the museum was established in response to progressive political movements of the 1960s, its physically fortresslike relationship to its surroundings is at odds with its mission.

Working with OMCA as well as the city of Oakland, Laney College, and SPUR Oakland, students will create art and design interventions for the neighborhoods near the museum. The purpose of these interventions is to support cultural expression that does not promote displacement but rather celebrates the history and current creative resources of these areas and empowers local residents by involving them directly in museum programs.

These interventions, to be designed and prototyped by the research studio in collaboration with local organizations and residents, will include diverse forms: material, narrative, visual, and poetic. At the conclusion of the research studio, OMCA will mount a ‘prototyping festival’ to allow residents to interact and react to the intervention ideas developed by the studio.

Students from all departments are welcome, and assignments will be designed to allow participants with different backgrounds to use skills in writing, interviewing, drawing, analyzing, photographing, designing, building, etc. to create collaborative work products.

The course will be taught by Walter Hood,  Professor of Landscape Architecture, with participation by faculty from the Arts & Humanities Division as well as by creative leaders in the community. Walter Hood is an artist, designer, and educator. Hood regularly exhibits and lectures on professional and theoretical projects nationally and internationally, while Hood Studio engages in architectural commissions, urban design, art installations, and research. In both teaching and practice, Walter Hood is committed to the development of environments which reflect their place and time specifically through how people inhabit various geographies. His interest in the re-construction of urban landscapes seeks to build palimpsests by developing new elements, spatial forms and objects which validate their existing familiar context. 

The course is part of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, which studies global cities by combining methods from architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, and urban design with approaches from the arts and humanities. The Initiative supports new interdisciplinary courses, symposia, exhibitions, and publications, and is made possible with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

ENROLLMENT: All UC Berkeley Master of Landscape Architecture students who are required to taked LDARCHC203 and Master of City Planning students required to take a studio will be admitted without application. Other students will be admitted to the course on the basis of their applications, with selection criteria designed to ensure a diverse mix of disciplines.  Application forms and instructions are available here and are due at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 19.  All applicants are also required to attend an information session at 5 p.m. on Monday, August 22 at 170 Wurster Hall.  Students chosen will be informed by 9 a.m. on Tuesday, August 23 and must confirm they will enroll by noon that day to allow for alternates in case of non-enrollment. The first day of class is Wednesday, August 24.

This studio course is one of three required courses for the upcoming graduate certificate in Global Urban Humanities.  Applications for the certificate are expected to be available in Spring 2017, and students taking this course can count it toward a future certificate.