We acquired a warehouse building just on the edge of Oakland's burgeoning and transforming First Friday zone, an area we've been referring to as "Outer Uptown." Adjacent to the Oakland Greyhound Bus Station, the building had seen many uses over the years, as well as some better days. At one point, through eminent domain, Caltrans removed a part of the structure to create the Castro Street off ramp of 980 (our building's curved facade is the result of that Caltrans modification).
By the time we acquired it, the makeshift space had plywood covering the storefront in place of glass, a leaky roof, and an interior chopped up into a warren of tiny, dark, unusable rooms. The building had two entries and two addresses—one to the east on San Pablo Avenue and one to the west on Castro Street.
Our first step was to make a round of updates needed to immediately relocate and activate the workshop. It was a bleak but workable temporary situation in the front of the new space while a design team in our office began developing plans for the extensive renovation.
We began with adjustments to make the existing structure more comfortable for the intrepid first folks working there and to achieve better environmental performance. Some exploratory demolition revealed that the building had absolutely no insulation but two framed drop ceilings. We cleared everything out except the one wall that would separate the new office space from the workshop. We added 2-inch rigid insulation to the roof before repairing and re-sealing it. Opening up the space exposed a framework of orange columns and beams from when Caltrans had reworked the structure, which we repainted white in the new office and left classic Caltrans orange in the finished workshop space.