Lowney Architecture

repurposing historic buildings

repurposing historic buildings

Whole Foods Market, Oakland

Our design brief was to redevelop an 1890 transportation-oriented, designated historic property – whose previous uses included a cable car powerstation for railway companies as well as showrooms for car dealerships – into a prototype store for Whole Foods Market.

We restored the historic building’s façade and maintained its roofline and created a welcoming interior with the necessary square footage to accommodate an innovative “loop” store layout by exposing the original trusses. , and  using pre-cast concrete double “T’s” to create long, mostly column-free spans and other structural elements.

A new steel and glass structure connects the grocery store to a 200-space rooftop and street level parking area. Its double-height elevator lobby is pedestrian-accessible through an entrance, set back from the street by a generously-sized sidewalk and landscaping.

The project development took five years and 10 engineering firms were involved in extensive environmental remediation; installation of a complex drainage system to mitigate flooding from a creek which runs underneath the building; and extensive earthquake abatement. Construction was fast-tracked through the use of pre-cast concrete, and the early involvement of the pre-cast concrete company benefitted early planning and design; helped mitigate schedule impacts; and addressed the challenge of the lack of a construction staging area in the tight urban infill site.