Oakland Arena (facade mutation)

As originally designed, the Oakland Arena façade is a study in engineered efficiency. Given a non-uniform structural parí and a complex site with frontage on what was then a shiny new BART line, the 880 freeway as well as major city arterials and traffic from Oakland International Airport, there was no shortage of factors to elicit differentiation within the façade; however, the solution was a perfectly rectilinear vertical joist system with flat Fink trusses deployed evenly around the perimeter to span from the top to bottom of the concrete primary structure rather than attaching mid-span where the wide X-bracing gives various possibilities for attachment.

SOM / Oakland Arena 1962My claim is that SOM’s model of working had something to do with the undifferentiated detail deployed in this project. The organizational chart adjacent talks about the different players present on the design project; in this case, Architect (A) Mechanical Engineer (Me) and Structural Engineer (Str) are all SOM. The closeness of these roles and their collapse into a single epistemic community (where engineers and architects are often typified as having differing linguistic norms and teleologies) makes it difficult for any to act unilaterally, instead merging into an assemblage which acts to territorialize a large part of the project,  giving it an internal consistency created to mirror that of the formative organization not the many contextual cues contingent upon it. (De Landa, Assemblages Against Totalities, 13)

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