Retu(r)ned Oak - CODAworx

Retu(r)ned Oak

Client: Ellis Partners & Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation

Location: Oakland, CA, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team


Daniel Winterich

Studio Winterich

Art Consultant

Alice Ranahan

Alice Ranahan Art Advisory Services



General Contractor

Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company

Glazing Subcontractor

Walters & Wolf

Glass Fabricator

Lenehan Architectural Glass

Metal Fabrication

WIP Mechanical, Inc.


Michael O'Callaghan


Studio Winterich collaborated with the global architectural firm Gensler to design the project’s public art component. Among the largest glass art installations in the Bay Area, this kiln-formed low-iron glass artwork is permanently integrated into the building structure and measures 11-4″ x 165′ x 8″. Inspiration for the piece came from the history of the city of Oakland, with particular reference to Live Oak acorns. The visual pattern found on the fruit of the city’s namesake tree and tokens from an early transit system—the Key System—offered a geometric idea for the artwork, which displays a subtle wave pattern over the length of a city block. The site was a north-facing seventy-four-foot long glass wall plus a west-facing ninety-one-foot wall. It was to include no colored glass but have a commanding presence on the building’s exterior. How can a clear, north-facing, uncolored glass sing on this building? The answer lay in the natural reflective quality of simple window glass. Kiln-formed facets reflect near-constant urban activities of passing buses, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians and cause the glass walls to sparkle and send reflected light across their facets as if they were electrified.


The public art requirements, as stated by the Owner and Architect at the beginning of the project, included:
• Restrained and thoughtful approach
• Well integrated into the architectural design
• Geometric over representational design preferred
• Enjoyable from street level
• Neutral or subtle color, if any
• Visual or actual texture occurs


The original project brief called for a cast-glass rain screen in front of the building's storefront windows. Early studies showed that the structure for heavy cast glass would not fit into the public art budget. Instead, Studio Winterich developed a lightweight kiln-formed glass and aluminum mullion system that could be integrated into the storefront window system. The artist proved the concept to the building owners, architects, general contractor, and the glazing subcontractor by creating a series of maquettes and full-scale mock-ups of the kiln-formed glass. The new approach reduced the project budget and provided a safe and energy-efficient means for permanently integrating art into the building.