Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 5, 2015

Little boxes

Filed under: Alameda, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Presented at the last Planning Board meeting as an informational item (because it wasn’t read for presenting just yet) was this super exciting project made up of, shipping containers.

Now, before you groan, the shipping container movement has received a lot of traction these days and has formed the backbone of some truly innovative projects.  One really good example is PROXY in San Francisco.  The corner in question is at the entrance to Park Street at the foot of the Park Street bridge and is (or was, I don’t go off island that way a lot) a used car lot or something like that.  This proposal would stack shipping containers up to form neat Tetris like shapes to create an instant mixed used community.

Here’s the corner, it would go in front of that brick building at the corner of Blanding and Park:

And here are the renderings that I had to capture from the video because a powerpoint was not available:




It’s non traditional and funky and I adore it so much.  It has the buy in of many of the neighbors in the surrounding area (body shop across the street, proprietor of the Little House Cafe, neighbors over at Rhythmix, etc) and ties the industrial and maritime roots of Alameda into one really special little project which would immediately bring a presence to that corner which does not currently exist.

I love that it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not.  It owns the vibrant colors and is not afraid to stick out like a sore thumb, in a completely awesome way.



  1. Groan/sigh/awk…Great job matching everything else in Alameda…Let’s see- we have the huge GASOLINE sign with the In N Out at the Tube, and now little boxes at the Park Street Bridge- maybe a Chucky Cheese on Fernside?

    Comment by Breathless — August 5, 2015 @ 6:20 am

  2. I like it too Lauren – something new and different for Park Street.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 5, 2015 @ 6:36 am

  3. Here are some interesting spaces I found on Pinterest. It’s seems very similar to the parklet movement.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 5, 2015 @ 6:44 am

  4. residential or retail?

    Comment by MI — August 5, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  5. Residential over retail and small start up business space.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 5, 2015 @ 8:12 am

  6. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply move to Emeryville today, instead of spending years advocating Alameda to become Emeryville?

    Comment by dave — August 5, 2015 @ 8:42 am

  7. I think it is a pretty interesting project, especially considering the lot size and location. Nice scale, should be very ped & bike focused. Look forward to reading and seeing more about this potential improvement.

    Comment by Ron Mooney — August 5, 2015 @ 8:48 am

  8. Perhaps if they put some aggregate stone on the facade it might “match” better, like this?,-122.237586,3a,75y,179.45h,76.87t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1swBSfAKAkGbIIt-PRNDChJA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 5, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  9. If this happens I’m not objecting, but it is ironic on so many levels. I’m thinking about AirBNB. When I lived across the estuary on 5th Avenue I was in an old corrugated metal building which was a warren of lofts. The lot between my building and the estuary was periodically stacked with empty containers five high. There were more than a few shipping containers around the neighborhood which had people living in them, sans windows. Speaking of Emeryville, I heard of an industrial space over there with a community of people which grew out of Burning Man where they were all living in containers until the code enforcement busted them. For all his proposals Peter Wang made for Del Monte it’s ironic that Encinal terminals had a prototype stacked right outside his door for years but he never caught on. I don’t know how to compress links from You Tube so rather than drag them here, you can go find several about containers being prefabbed living units which make for modular living spaces. They used them in Haiti to get people out of tents. They are earthquake resistant! There is a really small cottage about the size and shape of a container which is for sale on my street. It may still be owned by Barbara Kerr. I should look at the price for a comp, but I see the asking price was reduced. Another slightly larger one bedroom cottage on our street is asking $450,000 which I think is about $1200 a square foot. One of the YouTube videos says container units start at just over $100/sf.

    Comment by MI — August 5, 2015 @ 9:18 am

  10. 8. Lauren, are you being ironic? That stone facade motif is about the lowest of low points for architectural standards. I call it Sixties Shit Box.

    Comment by MI — August 5, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  11. Like! Like that it reflects the industrial area that it’s in and that it reminds us that Alameda was a noteworthy commercial shipping site as well as home to Victorians. It wasn’t till the 60’s that we became a place with lots of cookie cutter building. I’d like to see more of old Alameda’s interest in innovation and variety. The industrial area is a great place to do this. It was always different and what goes in should reflect that.

    Comment by Li_ — August 5, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  12. Yeah, because of comment #1 requiring that everything “match.”

    Here’s some more container projects:

    BoxPark Shoreditch, a pop up mall in London
    The Container Bar in Austin, TX
    CC441, mixed use building in Tokyo
    Pop Brixton, live work and retail space
    Box Office, office space in Providence, RI

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 5, 2015 @ 9:45 am

  13. I agree with MI #10 — no stone facades please.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 5, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  14. 11. right. but let container vernacular speak for itself. Don’t confuse things with “stone facade”. Beats a used car lot.

    Comment by MI — August 5, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  15. Evaluating the massing of such a “stack” is crucial. What are the setbacks? Will the containers stack up vertically in the same plane–with the same awful effect–as the cineplex addition to the Alameda Theatre? Will being unabashedly container-ish look just plain ugly? There are far too many mud-toned color schemes in our new construction, but I’m not sure I’m ready for neon-colored steel, either.

    If it isn’t done WELL, I’m going to be against it, but “the devil is in the details.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 6, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  16. My company is known for doing elaborate, thought- and discussion-provoking April Fool’s tricks on campus. This year, a “model shipping container home” was set up in a field near the volleyball courts, next to the Bay Trail. An accompanying article on our intranet site explained that this would be the “intern village” for the 2015 summer program. The comments were interesting. Some people thought it was a bad idea & took it as making light of the housing crisis. Others (like me) thought it was an excellent idea. We have a very competitive intern program, but interns are required to find their own housing & the once-generous moving stipend doesn’t go as far. This year, most of the interns from out of town already had somewhere to stay with friends/family in the Bay area.

    Done right, these could be great options for the right people. How many 30-somethings would love to have their own place & would choose a “container village studio” over living with their parents? Just musing aloud…

    Comment by Alison — August 7, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

  17. 18. if you own one they are truly portable, which opens whole new options.

    Comment by MI — August 8, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  18. This video concerns another kind of reuse of containers, but it is right near us in Oakland:

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — August 8, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

  19. Great Kevis. Cute couple. Takes me back. Now that kids are gone, I could still live like this with enough open space, i.e. the lot. I was thinking that double wides are pretty similar, but obviously these guys are doing it for less. The composting toilet is pretty great, though storing stacks of 5 gallon buckets two years at a time could get interesting. This is disruptive in a good way. These folks aren’t bothering anybody, but are choosing to disrupt cultural norms and the benefit is their own mobility.

    Comment by MI — August 9, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  20. worth watching it all and reading comments. Luke talks about waiting to be busted by code compliance. Would never happen in Alameda!!

    read comments : Bah Humbug! “I was OK with this until it became apparent that they have turned it into an enterprise on the backs of ” renters ” who are NOT fortunate enough to own or rent elsewhere. They are RE – SELLING used shipping containers which cost less than $2000 DELIVERED for SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS PLUS whatever they charge for ” improvements ” . When Luke & Heather finally get busted for usury ( among DOZENS of other criminal offences ) , ALL those containers AND their contents will be impounded as evidence and all the ” renters ” will be able to do is stand on the sidewalk , OUTSIDE the fence , scratching their asses and watching it happen . . .”

    Comment by MI — August 9, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

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