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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wishful Re-coloring of a Legendary High School

Oakland is home to so many historical architectural gems. When I first moved here, I had to really watch my driving because of the distracting amount of stunning architecture in every direction. I also love that Oakland doesn't shy away from color!

 photo: QT Luong

One of many colorful murals:

Photo: Marie Brady

One the flip side, it's no secret that Oakland has had it's share of rough times. Much of the industry such as shipbuilding, auto production and other various factories that provided jobs left just as legions of people arrived in search of once plentiful jobs after World War II. Like many urban cities, Oakland has been struggling to reinvent and revitalize itself as the decades have challenged it's past identity.

Downtown Oakland 1946 via archives:

I get a case of the sads when I see so much of the rich architectural heritage of the city shuttered, neglected or poorly redone. One can almost hear the buildings protesting, “ Hey, I was once lovely and something to behold.” 

Tile lined WC Morse building across from Tech High: 

 Photo: Marie Brady

I'll save some of these stunning landmarks for another post as I dive into a sub category of Oakland Architecture, the public schools. Some refurbished landmarks like the Paramount and Fox Theaters having us residents jumping for joy and hopeful at this direction of urban renewal.

One of Oakland's schools that has always fascinated me is the nearly century old Oakland Technical High School. It's alumni include Clint Eastwood, The Pointer Sisters, Frank Oz and baseball great Ricky Henderson among many others. This neoclassical sprawling building is set along the busy street of Broadway which leads into downtown Oakland many blocks away.

Vintage Postcard:

Just up a few blocks up the hill is the stylish, hip Rockridge district 

 .......while heading into downtown Oakland is the Paramount Theater and many new, exciting restaurants. This part of Broadway, however, is doted by shuttered buildings many of which I've never seen open in a decade alone with many closed car dealerships.

I've never seen this restaurant across from the school in business in the last 10 years:

Photo: Marie Brady

While Oakland Tech has had a reputation in recent decades as a tough inner city school, it's newer engineering and technology program has become the darling of the school system and is attracting many students away from local private high schools by the droves. Admission to this program is hard won but colleges eagerly snap up their graduates.

Photo: Marie Brady
 I noticed Tech was painted a few years ago and I am less than excited about the outcome. While the historic pictures show that it has always been pale in color........

Oakland Tech in it's opening year of 1914 via archives:

Oakland Tech in 1940 via archives:

........the institutional looking white with the baby blue details leaves a lot to be desired. To me it looks depressing and cheap. Bad white and  playing up details could have really made this building sing again!

The massive, financially strapped school district has a set group of about 6 color palettes which they must feel make maintenance more cost effective and streamlined. (more about this in a future post on dealing with school districts and institutional color). I really believe that when you give an already challenged group of students a handsome, well maintained building to learn in, they will rise to the occasion and feel proud of their school.

Neoclassical architecture is often painted white or in stone types of colors with occasional colorful flourishes. This school has some inlayed blue Greek fretwork near the roof line as well as green leaf tile accents and medallions above the columns. I have to wonder at what's  possible for this school so I played around with options for color. 

I took a little creative license moving away from the white but I still believe the correct white would also do wonders...... I also have a selfish reason for dreaming of seeing what has been declared a local landmark freshened up. My older son may well be attending their fabulous engineering program in 2 years.

Which is YOUR favorite?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Color Changing Paints and Materials

Choosing colors for architecture, finishes and materials involves so many variables. Obviously, that is why we colorists are here to help. 

Now add to the mix the option of color changing paints and materials.  Feeling too indecisive to pick just one color?  Well, there are more and more products coming on the market that let you avoid just one choice.  Granted many of these, to me, can easily cross the line into gimmicky. But with a little creativity and careful use, I can see the beauty and interest in some applications.

This company, Moving Color,  has a wide range of color changing tiles.  They respond to heat or touch and react a variety of ways from simply changing color to having painted landscapes change seasons. 

Color changing paints, such as a line from the company, Eclipse, make paint that changes from one color to another.

Italian designer Roberto Cavalli used color changing paint on his yacht.

No small price tag at around $500 per gallon. Yes this is the same designer who has a color changing house in Italy as well!

Italo Rota and partners

Other applications under consideration are for the use of road paints that change colors to alert drivers of changes in road conditions such as the presence of ice.   

As for me, I'm waiting for the car that changes colors with the push of a button.  Yes, a way has been developed in which a car can change colors in seconds with the flip of a switch using changes in electrical charges to produce a full spectrum of color choices. Imagine how much fun this will create for the DMV keeping track of all these color changing vehicles!