David Baker Architects

Tassafaronga Village

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The apartment building from the Village Square. Image: Brian Rose

PDF Icon2012-11-11 Nyt-kimmelman

Gracious words from the New York Times's Michael Kimmelman in the October 11, 2012, Art & Design section.

Read "Design as Balm for a Community's Soul," Architecture Critic Michael Kimmelman's review of Tassafaronga Village and Richardson Apartments in the New York Times.


This new neighborhood, situated on seven-and-a-half acres in the southern end of Oakland, has a range of affordable housing, green pathways, pocket parks, and open spaces. The development has achieved one of the first LEED ND Certified Gold Plans.

All buildings are certified at the highest level of green standard—LEED for Homes Platinum—incorporating a wide range of complementary green strategies including solar power for on-site generation of electricity and hot water.

site plan with digital Tassafaronga Village

The Oakland Housing Authority townhouses at Tassafaronga Village are on track to be certified at LEED for Homes Platinum.

"This project works on every level, creating a haven for its occupants without forgetting to engage its communities. The team preserved embodied energy by artfully repurposing an existing building. Variety and articulation of different building and unit types are expressed both on the exterior facing the street, as well as the interiors facing the public gathering areas. It admirably achieves every one of the goals the team set out to meet."
—2011 AIA Housing Awards jury

Image: Brian Rose


There are two townhouse strategies at Tassafaronga: the normal row-house version, and "pinwheel" fourplexes. These units have no exposed backs, just  two adjacent fronts, and have up to 4 bedrooms.  All the Oakland Housing Authority townhomes additionally have washer-dryer closets.

Image: Brian Rose

Apartment building podium level plan.

The apartment building courtyard is a green roof over the structured parking. Image: Brian Rose


A three-story apartment building features affordable rental units in multiple configurations. Apartments flank a hidden parking structure, setting a residential rather than industrial tone, and also enclose a second-level open-air courtyard. The front of the building is topped with a rolling green roof.

Image: Brian Rose

The apartment building faces the pedestrian mews with grade level direct access to individual units. These lower units hide the garage. Image: Brian Rose

The 3 story apartment building faces 85th Street with the garage hidden by residential with direct pedestrian access. Image: Brian Rose

The Village Square shared space encourages community.

Image: Brian Rose

Village Square

Tassafaronga is anchored by a large public plaza known as the Village Square. Each of the three new areas of housing also has a semi-private shared space, creating sheltered play and gathering areas for children and residents.

The Village Square. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Brian Rose

Pasta Factory

A defunct pasta factory and parcel of unused industrial land are reclaimed as small affordable apartments with a neighborhood-serving medical clinic.

THe Pasta Factory supportive housing from the neighborhood. Image: Brian Rose

Rendering of Habitat for Humanity's Kinsell Commons.

Two areas of Habitat for Humanity homes—known as Kinsell Commons—are incorporated into the site. Image: Bruce Damonte

Habitat for Humanity

Twenty-two family townhomes are going up in cooperation with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The recipient families of these homes personally participate in the construction of the buildings, with 500 hours of sweat-equity labor, which they are then able to purchase with an extremely low-interest mortgage.

The Habitat for Humanity sweat equity homes under construction.

The Farm located in the adjacent park.

Kelly Carlisle is the founder the Tassafaronga Youth Urban Farm. She founded the non-profit Acta Non Verba, deeds not words, after serving in the military. The school kids who learn how to grow food have a farm stand three days a week. The money they earn is deposited in bank acounts for their future education. More information at www.anvfarm.org.

The Youth Urban Farm's wood fired pizza oven with chief farmer Kelly Carlisle of Acta Non Verba.

Kids of Tassafaronga. Image: Brian Rose

The former housing on the site was troubled.

The Pasta Factory before renovation.

The former public housing site of Tassafaronga.

PDF IconTassafaronga-leed-nd-checklist

Tassafaronga is a Gold Certified LEED ND neighborhood.

Download the PDF of Tassafaronga's LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot project checklist.


PDF IconTassafaronga-leed-homes-checklist

Tassafaronga is LEED for Homes Platinum certified.

Tassafaronga Village achieved LEED for Homes Platinum Certification in May 2011. Download the PDF of Tassafaronga's LEED for Homes project checklist.


Aerial rendering.

The Acta Non Verba Farm's first harvest with the farmers.

The ribbon, ready for cutting, at the grand opening on May 10, 2010.

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Detail of Community Room and apartment entry. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Third floor corridor of apartment building interior. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

An existing tree on 85th Street in front of the 3 story apartment building. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Kinsell Commons opening. Image: Mark Hogan

The Pasta Factory sign was repainted. Image: Brian Rose

We repainted the old Alita Macaroni Products sign on the Pasta Factory Housing. Image: Brian Rose

The Pasta Factory entry. Image: Brian Rose

Pasta Factory entry porch. Image: Brian Rose

Pasta Factory entry porch detail. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Image: Matthew Millman

Art from Oakland's Creative Growth brightens the third floor corridor.

The combination corridor light/bike room sign.

The interior of an apartment-building bike room, one per floor, with the Vertirack system (www.bikeparking.com) for individual secure bike storage.

Oakland Housing Authority townhouses face an existing refurbished public park. Image: Brian Rose

An Oakland Housing Authority townhouse. Image: Brian Rose

Oakland Housing Authority townhouses.

OHA townhouses.

OHA Townhouses

There are a lot of kids enjoying the public spaces of Tassafaronga Village.

The allotment garden plots producing a bumper crop.

Aerial rendering.

An aerial view of Kinsell Commons: Habitat for Humanity townhouses at 81st Street.

Habitat for Humanity's Kinsell Commons at 84th Street aerial view.

Detail of downspout connection to soil box.

All the water from streets is collected in these vegetated basins.

The site form space. Look for the orange dot.

Tassafaronga site.

The BART Station "walkshed", 1/2 mile radius 10 minute walk. It doesn't quite make it to Tassafaronga.

The planned AC Transit BRT "walkshed", a 1/2 mile radius or 10 minute walk. Tassafaronga is in this walkshed.

The site is located on the edge of the residential zone. The new library, and this project, complete a rational dividing line between Residential and Industrial zoning.

site plan locating OHA 60 unit apartment building with structured parking

site locating OHA townhouses

Site plan locating the renovated pasta factory.

site plan locating Habitat for Humanity townhouses

We reconnected to the existing street grid with private streets that mimic the public ones. We got to count the parking on these streets towards our parking requirement, reducing the need for parking lots and structured parking.

site plan with walkable streets and mews highlighted

Apartment building ground level plan showing garage screened on three sides.

Pasta Factory Supportive Housing: Ground floor plan.

Pasta Factory Supportive Housing: Upper floor.

The community room and higher density apartment building.

A deteriorating pasta factory will be stripped down and reinvented as supportive studio apartments.

Pedestrian pathway along apartment building showing units at grade screening garage structure.

Pedestrian walkways with Housing Authority townhouses.

Community room and apartments under construction.

Construction as of January 27, 2010.

Courtyard construction as of January 27, 2010.


The Village Square and townhouses under construction.

View of the village square under construction in October of 2009.

village square 01.27.2010

village square 01.27.2010

Townhouses under construction.

Oakland Housing Authority townhouses under construction.


Townhouse in October of 2009.


This former pasta factory is being renovated into housing and a medical clinic.

This former pasta factory is being renovated into supportive housing and a neighborhood-serving medical clinic.

Workers spruce up the original sign for the Pasta Factory Housing.

The Kinsell Commons foundation slab ready to pour.

The effect of California's Title 24 regulations on electricity consumption. This graph is by Art Rosenfeld, a State Energy Commissioner, physicist, and energy conservation pioneer.

PCBC presents Award of Merit Honors to Cahill Constructors, Oakland Housing Authority, David Baker + Partners [and] Equity Community Builders in Recognition of Excellence for Tassafaronga Village: Green Sustainable Community of the Year.

PCBC presents Award of Merit Honors to Oakland Housing Authority, David Baker + Partners [and] PGA Design in Recognition of Excellence for Tassafaronga Village: Best Infill, Re-Development or Rehab Site Plan.


AIA COTE Top 10 Award
AIA Committee on the Environment
2012 Nathaniel A. Owings Award Entry of Note
California Architectural Foundation
MHN Excellence Award—Best New Development/Low-Income
Multi-Housing News
Builder's Choice Grand Award—Best Green/Sustainable Community
Builder Magazine
Growing Smarter Together Award
Association of Bay Area Governments
Excellence in Architecture—Citation Award
AIA San Francisco
Growing Smarter Together Award
Association of Bay Area Governments
ULI Awards for Excellence Finalist
Urban Land Institute
Real Estate Deals of the Year—Affordable Housing (Outside San Francisco)
San Francisco Business Times
AIA Housing Award
American Institute of Architects
Gold Nugget Award of Merit—Best Infill, Re-Development or Rehab Site Plan
Pacific Coast Builders Conference
Gold Nugget Award of Merit—Best Green Sustainable Community of the Year
Pacific Coast Builders Conference


Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Project
Design as Balm for a Community's Soul
Housing Restart
Environments for Life

project details


Affordable Housing, All Projects, Apartments, LEED, Townhouses, Urban Design


Oakland, California


Oakland Housing Authority

Development Consultant

Equity Community Builders


David Baker Architects

Landscape Architect

PGA Design

Structural Engineer

OLMM Consulting Engineers

Electrical Engineer

FW Associates

Lighting Designer

Horton Lees Brogden

Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer

Guttmann + Blaevoet

Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer

SJ Engineers


Cahill Contractors

Civil Engineer




project data
Tassafaronga Village
Oakland, California
Completed May 2010
number of units
OHA studio
OHA townhome
OHA 1 bedroom
OHA 2 bedroom
OHA 3 bedroom
Oakland Housing Authority total
Habitat for Humanity total
density ratios
project sf OHA
site acres OHA + Habitat
total bedrooms OHA + Habitat
bedrooms/acre OHA + Habitat
units/acre OHA + Habitat
OHA total
Habitat total 30
spaces/unit OHA + Habitat
type garage + surface
LEED ND Gold Plan
October 2008
LEED for Homes Platinum
May 2011