Oakland's historic Water Street at Jack London Square signage and pedestrians walkingOakland's historic Water Street at Jack London Square signage and pedestrians walkingOakland's historic Water Street at Jack London Square signage and pedestrians walkingOakland's historic Water Street at Jack London Square signage and pedestrians walkingOakland's historic Water Street at Jack London Square signage and pedestrians walking

Oakland, California

Jack London Square

Situated along the estuary, Jack London Square is Oakland’s only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront and marina area that has been a well-known landmark since the mid-1800s. The space offers visitors and local residents a vibrant hub of outdoor recreation, unique dining, special events, and entertainment opportunities.

Markets

Services

Client

CIM Group

Design awards

Digital iphone mock up for Jack London Square
Jack London Square stationary mock up branding.
Jack London Square branded coffee cart.

After experiencing major economic challenges during the 1990s and early 2000s, the city launched a large-scale initiative for redevelopment and infrastructure improvements. Oakland’s close proximity to San Francisco, as well as its strong base of diverse employers were just a few reasons that inspired the revitalization. In addition, the goal was to bring a safe and welcoming as well as energetic and thriving environment that would draw visitors into the waterfront destination. 

In collaboration with the development group, the design team set out to create a branding strategy and experiential graphic design program that is unique to Jack London Square. Centered around Water Street, the designers worked to envision the branding and logo design, as well as a vocabulary of collateral to use throughout.

Jack London Square pedestrian wayfinding and placemaking design.
Jack London Square waterfront pedestrian wayfinding system and directory map
Jack London Square amenities and placemaking design

The branding narrative ties together the heritage of Jack London, the famed American writer who was raised in Oakland, and the rich culture and diversity of the city. After establishing the story and key principles– such as modern yet historically referential, adventurous, and bold in spirit– the brand was then extended to printed and digital marketing as well as to the environment. The type-based identity reflects the high-impact and visual energy of Oakland’s creative culture while paying homage to the historical references in the name. In addition, the team developed an illustrative mark for Buck the Wolf, alluding to Jack London’s most well-known work, The Call of the Wild, and its protagonist referred to as Buck.

Jack London Square pedestrian wayfinding system and directory map design
Jack London Square pedestrian and vehicular directional design
Jack London Square placemaking elements and identity signage.

A system of signage and wayfinding helps guide visitors throughout the area and helps define the area, and the also helps accurately define the boundaries and destinations within the small district. In addition, RSM Design worked on streetscape concepts to help revive the waterfront area. Together, the vision, branding, and signage helps to share the rich history of the district and is bringing in more visitors to the area.

In addition, utilizing signage and environmental graphics allows boundaries and destinations to be clearly defined within the physical space. The creation of a clear signage system and wayfinding guides visitors seamlessly throughout the area and to various points in the district. Inspired by innovation, there was a strong pull towards integrating industrial materials such as metals into the architectural graphic design details. These design decisions evoke a contemporary look and feel that is also durable for a heavily trafficked, outdoor environment. In addition, the design team imagined streetscape concepts to breathe new life into the waterfront destination. Together, the vision, branding, and signage expresses the rich history of the district and in turn invites both new and returning guests to share in the Jack London experience.

Jack London Square open face channel letters and exposed neon mounted on gateway element
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Collaborators:

Creo Industrial Arts