OpenArchSF: Oakland Civic Design Lab

To design and build-out the Civic Design Lab on Oakland City Hall’s 9th floor, Open Architecture San Francisco volunteers worked with area architects and City representatives to develop a collaboration space that breaks down bureaucratic silos.


OASF volunteers procured materials and furniture and conducted a series of weekend builds in 2017. The Civic Design Lab, a municipal resilience initiative, and other organizations have hosted events in the space ranging from housing workshops to civic tech show-and-tells.

Mayor Schaff Visits the Oakland Civic Design Lab

March 28, 2017, via Open Architecture San Francisco.

Oakland Civic Design Lab to “sprinkle mayoral gratitude” on the project.

For a year now, Open Architecture San Francisco has been working with Oakland’s Digital Services and Online Engagement Manager Mai Ling Garcia and architecture office Blink!LAB to transform City Hall’s 7th Floor into a vibrant, inter-departmental coworking space. Mayor Schaff toured our progress – most materials are still “off the wall,” being staged for a collaborative April 2nd Build Day.

The Mayor noted how the City was in need of venues for innovation, to break down institutional barriers and keep pace with the changes around us. She cited how changing food vending regulations has taken brilliant city workers two years to complete.

The Civic Design Lab itself was conceived over two years ago. But the April 2nd Build Day will end with a soft opening of the space, and perhaps a revolution in municipal collaboration.


Mayor Schaff sprinkles “mayoral gratitude” on the Civic Design Lab

Work Day @ Oakland Civic Design Lab

April 5, 2017, via Open Architecture San Francisco.

On Sunday, April 2, we (OASF and our client at the City) held a Work Day to get the Oakland Civic Design Lab to 95% completion.


The transformation was somewhat astonishing. OASF had identified a short list of big tasks to take care of that day: hanging the pegboard, painting the recovered phone booth, painting file cabinets, and building wheeling dry erase boards (inspired by our client Mai-Ling’s visit of Stanford’s Even before we had finished these tasks, people started visiting the floor (dedicated City workers!), rubbing their eyes and saying “THIS is City Hall??”

Through this project, OASF is helping the City of Oakland break down departmental barriers to collaboration – the Civic Design Lab is a first interdepartmental space for the City. We worked closely with the City and with existing schematic designs to confirm space planning, design shelving, specify materials, and install all the components. The Work Day invited other City employees to join in a final push to completion.

Early the next week Mai-Ling wrote to thank us and to confirm a general enthusiasm on the 9th floor.

“We’ve had amazing feedback about the space, people
are floored, excited and planning to use it.”

Below are some pics from the event. We have another day of work left to wrap everything up, and are aiming for a May 1 opening. (This schedule is really dictated by the furniture procurement process.)



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