Oakland/Tassafaronga Village

Tassafaronga Village — © Brian Rose

A major priority in returning quickly to the Bay Area was to photograph Tassafaronga Village in Oakland for David Baker + Partners. It is a mixed income development in a difficult area of Oakland. My understanding is that the new village of apartments and townhouses replaces barracks-like public housing blocks. Some housing activists, apparently, objected to the razing of the old housing as well as the money spent on quality design.

Tassafaronga Village town houses — © Brian Rose

In my view, good design is critical to rebuilding urban neighborhoods–providing a fresh start in places where crime and poverty have become endemic. Design is more than about superficial aesthetics. It extends to creating places (and homes) that have the potential to reshape lives and produce sustainable, more vital, communities. Tassafaronga Village may be one of the best such examples in the country.

Tassafaronga village — © Brian Rose

John King for the San Francisco Chronicle: Again and again, his (architect David Baker) buildings are imbued with an adventurous urbanism attuned to larger social and environmental concerns – traits that should be commonplace, but instead are all too rare.

Tassafaronga kids — © Brian Rose

As I set up one of my last shots of Tassafaronga, I was surrounded by kids playing in a courtyard between some of the townhouses. I stood on a picnic table for a better vantage point of one of the buildings, and a bunch of the kids stood on the table opposite me gawking at my strange camera. “What are you doing, Mister?” I said I was waiting for the sun, and a bit later when I told them I had an 11 year old son back home, one of them explained to me the difference in spelling between “son” and “sun.”