Located in West Oakland, The Black Panther is a groundbreaking affordable housing community that supports very low-income and formerly incarcerated individuals. Working with local non-profit Oakland and the World Enterprise (OAW) and McCormack Barron Salazar (MBS), MWA helped design a five-story apartment building with residential, community, and commercial spaces. Situated just three blocks from BART, the development is a transit-oriented community with convenient access to downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and the entire Bay Area.
The Black Panther is the culminated vision of Civil Rights activist and leader of OAW Elaine Brown, who, combined with MBS, has raised $80 million for this development. After serving as the first and only female chairperson of the Black Panther Party, Brown was inspired to start her own civil rights organization focused on creating social and economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. OAW advocated for the new housing community to be built in an area of the city formerly known as the “Harlem of the West” to revitalize the once-thriving Black community severely impacted by the urban redevelopment of the 1950s and 60s. The new mixed-use apartment building will add 79-affordable housing units to the area and create more opportunities for marginalized individuals to establish incubator businesses within the ground-floor commercial space.
Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, at the 7th & Campbell Ground Breaking
"You have been fighting for Black liberation all your life, and I love how you are doing it right here right now."
The façade of the building ungulates to deflect noise coming from the neighboring BART tracks. Units on the upper levels have views of the Bay and the Oakland Hills. Commercial businesses with individual entries open organically to the street on the ground floor. Setting the building slightly inside the property line allows for oversized sidewalks encouraging higher levels of foot traffic, activating the street’s commercial core.
To encourage multi-modal transportation, the rear of the building has secure bike storage and just 11 parking spots. A demonstration urban farm sits at the East end of the site, creating opportunities for residents to enjoy the outdoors.
Incorporating both urban and residential design, the material palette at The Black Panther plays to the nature of its surroundings. A modern metal cladding façade faces the BART tracks, embracing the industrial design of the railway while also deflecting train noise. Stucco softens the façade that faces single-family homes, embracing the residential aspect of the neighborhood.
A 17-foot-tall bay entry opens to the ground floor lobby, where tenants can enter the residential podium level through a private stairway. Units and community spaces feature natural daylighting with tall windows.
The design focuses on green features, including energy efficiency through rooftop solar, efficient appliances, elevators, and building mechanical systems.
The Black Panther incorporates various sustainable elements into its design. 7,900 SF of solar panels will be installed on the roof to generate clean energy for the community. The building design also includes solar shading devices on resident windows to maintain comfortable temperatures with accents of color. With dignified, healthy, and inclusive spaces, The Black Panther nurtures the community by providing residents with mixed-use housing and business opportunities.
This mixed-use development helps empower individuals facing extreme economic and employment barriers to take ownership of their lives by providing safe and accessible housing.