Matthew Baran builds up Oakland's Dogtown
25 October 2013
Image: Scott Hargis
Matthew Baran (M.Arch. '08) of Baran Studio Architecture is renovating dilapidated houses in Dogtown, West Oakland, and designing compact modern homes to stand in their place. He has designed 15 in Dogtown and 40 in West and North Oakland so far, with the help of seven young architects as subcontractors. His latest three-home development, Bordertown, was recognized by the AIA East Bay chapter with an award.
Bordertown is set in a gritty landscape of warehouses and a demolished skate park alongside the MacArthur Freeway, but the new homes’ reintroduction of raw materials like concrete and chain-link metal integrate the houses into their environment. Baran was honored by the AIA East Bay chapter for Bordertown’s truthfulness to its surroundings, and AIA member and juror Bob Harris praised "the fact that it was done on a budget and fits in with the industrial elements of the neighborhood without being too precious and creates housing stock in a place where it's needed. And the execution was stellar."
Baran’s Oakland homes are built on a tight budget for materials and landscaping, and the completed designs are spare and modern. The homes are built within a year, priced between $500,000 and $1 million and attracting the mix of artists, young families, and Bay Area professionals moving into West Oakland.
"Many of our houses have been an eyesore for so long - people selling drugs out of them, pit bulls barking. Neighbors really appreciate the change,” said Baran, who teaches at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and the Academy of Art University.