We are enormously gratified by the City Design Review Committee’s praise for the David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza (“Design Committee Praises Plan for Brower Center,” Daily Planet, Jan. 25-27). We are similarly pleased with the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) Design Committee’s positive response to the building’s design a few days earlier. This early support from city officials, downtown leaders, environmental and housing activists is very encouraging as we proceed to honor the memory and contribution of David Brower, one of the world’s greatest environmental activists, with a model of environmentally responsible design.
When the city originally issued requests for a mixed-use development proposal that would include housing, commercial space, and replace the city-owned parking lot with a revenue generating garage, many wondered if all of those uses could be feasibly accommodated.
We are proud that not only will the city host a home for the environmental movement, but it will also gain nearly 100 units of badly needed affordable workforce housing and introduce new retail businesses to downtown.
The David Brower Center/Oxford Plaza recognizes that parking and traffic circulation issues pose a serious challenge in the downtown. As currently proposed, the project includes one level of underground parking to replace the existing surface lot, which will be owned and operated by the City of Berkeley. Despite competing pressures on the project from those advocating for maximum amounts of parking and those who would prefer none at all, we have agreed to study the feasibility of a two level underground garage as requested by the city and DBA.
In keeping with our environmental values, the David Brower Center/Oxford Plaza will implement aggressive transportation demand management programs, involving incentives for public transit use, carpooling, walking and bike riding in order to reduce local auto trips and traffic congestion, improve air quality, and reduce parking demand. The project will provide secure bicycle parking, showers and lockers to make riding to work more attractive.
The Brower Center is yet another “Berkeley first”—firmly establishing the city as the center for global environmental leadership.
John Clawson is Equity Community Builders’ project manager for the David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza.