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Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Color for Unoccupied Commercial Buildings

The economic downturn has obviously had far reaching effects in local communities.  One of the noticeable signs of the recession is the number of unoccupied retail/commercial spaces I am seeing in towns all over the Bay Area.  

Even upscale shopping areas are having trouble keeping and leasing out store fronts.  In my home city of Oakland, there are shocking numbers of unoccupied businesses and buildings all the way from the Montclair District down to Alameda.  A side effect is that long term vacancies tends to produce deferred maintenance and vandalism issues on buildings that bring the entire area down.

 Rather than feel helpless when I encounter some of these buildings month after month or even year after year, I decided to see how they can be recolored to be a little less depressing.

This unusual building has been unoccupied for the pretty much the entire decade I have lived in Oakland.  Right down the street from the prestigious College of Arts and Crafts, it has an interesting facade of navy and burgundy tile.  This picture doesn't reflect that it's also currently tagged with graffiti.

I chose this building, first of all, because I've seen it nearly every week for 10 years!  Also, it presents an interesting challenge with the navy blue and burgundy fixed elements of tile that need to be worked around.

  My main feeling about this building was wanting to keep with a more neutral palette of grays and a few details to support the tile colors.  I played around the the architectural details for bring in different types of contrast.

 I also had fun doing one outside the box by adding a more unexpected color into the mix:

This next building is another unusual building.  A building wanting to be Deco but again with tile that needs to be considered. Here is how it presently looks: 

 Another great challenge working around the turquoise tile and also the fact that Miami Deco type colors can look pretty strange in the Bay Area light! With that in mind, I did a more subdued palette a little more in context with the area:

 Again, I wanted to fit in one a little more colorful:

A fun exercise in what can be done with run down, unoccupied buildings.  I often wonder if more attention to these exteriors could play a role in getting spaces leased and occupied faster. In that case, a little paint can really go a long way as well as ease the eyesores for those of us who encounter these buildings.