Oakland City Hall Seismic and Historic Renovation

Oakland, CA

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake severely damaged Oakland’s historic City Hall, once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Working in close collaboration, MWA and VBN created a design to repair the building, renovate it to modern seismic and life safety standards, and preserve its historic character. Much of the restoration work offers a sharp contrast to the high-tech applications of City Hall’s new seismic retrofit. Plasterers used century-old techniques to painstakingly replicate ornate cornices and friezes. Using archival drawings, the Mayor’s office was restored to its original design, with a working fireplace and intricate wainscoting in the conference room.

Client: City of Oakland
Cost: $64.5 Million
Completion: 1995
Awards: 1998 Merit Award for Historic Preservation | 1996 Design Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation | 1996 Design Award, AIA East Bay Chapter | 1996 Preservation Design Award-Rehabilitation/Adaptive Re-Use | 1993 Design Award for Cultural Resources