The site upon which CHORI stands has a long and rich history in the Oakland community, and provides the perfect platform to house this growing community arts collaboration. This area has been home to the Ohlone, Spanish and Mexican people, the California State Baseball League (1897), University High School (1922), Merritt College, Peralta Community College, and Oakland City College. The campus was also the center of the local Chicano muralist movement from 1968-69. Thus, the CHORI building represents many unique aspects of the East Bay community and is well suited for the display of art.
University High was designed by architect Charles W. Dickey, a graduate of MIT school of architecture who also designed the Claremont Hotel and the California State Building at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The building is similar to California missions, with a mission church and bell tower at one end of a long, arcaded façade, behind which is a series of beautiful linked courtyards. It is typical of pre-war school buildings, with features including a wood frame, monumental masonry, open-air courtyards and Period Revival designs of the 1920s. The centrally placed library is the most ornamental feature and contains wood beam ceiling, built-in bookcases and Italian Renaissance surround. Like much of the civic architecture of the time, the building was designed with symbolic and functional concerns in mind, including the use of natural lighting and ventilation and rational arrangement of space, as well as incorporation of stylistic treatments that symbolized community values such as the solemnity and importance of education, the continuity of history, etc. B.J.S Cahill, a prominent architect of the early 1900s, said, “No city in the west in comparison with its population has spent so much time, thought and money on its public schools…Oakland stands better served in this respect, perhaps, than any city in the country.”
January 26, 2012 9:36 AM