The 305-foot Tribune Tower—with its distinctive clock face, green copper roof, and 11-foot-tall neon TRIBUNE sign—is one of Oakland’s most iconic buildings. The structure consists of a 22-story tower that was constructed in 1923 adjacent to a six-story former furniture showroom built in 1906. For decades, the connected buildings served as the headquarters of the Oakland Tribune newspaper. The tower’s Renaissance Revival style was inspired by the campanile of Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, and the ornate structure was designated an Oakland Historical Landmark in 1976. The building is clad in terra cotta and brick and offers more than 95,000 square feet of office space, and the ground-floor former newsroom has found a new use as the Tribune Tavern.
We were retained by Harvest Properties in 2017 to perform a condition assessment of the aging Tribune Tower to review the entirety of the exterior façade elements including windows, brick, terra cotta, and roofs. Our assessment included diagnostic water testing of the below-grade, roof, and transition details to identify specific areas of concern. In addition to identifying the building’s condition and repair needs, our assessment helped the owner to prioritize repairs and develop repair strategies. Following our initial involvement with the condition assessment, the owner retained our team to provide targeted building enclosure design services. The focus of the design services was to address high priority conditions including several conditions near grade-level, and to confront water intrusion issues above between the domed clock roof and the sloped copper roof above.
A significant challenge in assessing the condition of the building façade was gaining physical access to the upper stories of the tower. We enlisted members of our rope access team to apply their skills to this considerable task. Because of our rope team’s close-in and meticulous work on the tower, we were able to provide a detailed assessment of the upper façade.
As part of the overall retrofit, the historic building underwent a seismic retrofit and significant interior upgrade. We assisted with building enclosure repair work to address widespread signs of deterioration, including water intrusion in the basement and at the clock tower. Our responsibility also extended to helping the owner to develop building enclosure strategies based on the required structural retrofits and provided building enclosure drawings and specifications to resolve the water intrusion issues. Our team also provided construction administrative support and field review during the construction stage to ensure the work was in conformance with the project documents.
Renovations to the Tribune Tower were completed in 2018, and the iconic building is poised to contribute many more years of service to the downtown Oakland community.
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June 24, 2020
Building Enclosure Consultant