A dozen workers installed the new Oak Street Gateway Monument this week, creating an official entrance to the downtown area. Designed by architect Lance Crannell of SDG Architects in Brentwood, the new monument is a metaphorical gate into the heart of Brentwood.
“I wanted to design something that is uniquely Brentwood,” Crannell said. “What sets Brentwood apart is the agrarian culture. You drive around and you see the farms, the fruit orchards, the produce stands. All this agriculture used to be divided by fences and gates. With this design, we are opening the gate and inviting people to experience Brentwood.”
At the center of the design rests a multi-layered rendering in steel of Mt. Diablo and its surrounding hills. Across the arch reads “Downtown Brentwood” on both sides. On the supporting pillars will be set two tactile, way-finding maps of the downtown area; local landmarks will be raised to be conspicuous to the touch. The pillars also feature insets of bronzed locks, latches and keys to maintain the gate theme.
Crannell hopes the community will take time to discover all the little details the archway has to offer. With the main arch installed this week, the additional art elements, including the maps, will be installed in the upcoming weeks. To finish it off, LED lighting will be installed between the hills to give them depth and keep the sign visible at night.
Crannell conceived the gateway design more than a year ago. When in 2008 and ’09 the city held community workshops on downtown revitalization, residents suggested that a public art element form an archway as a welcoming point to the downtown area. Archways are nothing new in Brentwood. According to local historian Kathy Leighton’s book “Footprints in the Sand,” local architect J.W. Williams constructed an archway at the southwest entrance to City Park in 1929. It was a grey-beige arch made of wood and plaster. The new gateway, fabricated by Valley Iron Works in Lodi, is made of steel and concrete and weights more than five tons. The ironwork and installation for the gateway, as well as the smaller entry monument on Second Street, cost approximately $140,000, according to Senior Community Development Analyst Kwame Reed.
When the three main pieces of the archway went up on Monday, passersby took a moment to observe the action and take photos and video on their phones. Crannell said the feedback he’s heard so far has been positive and he looks forward to Saturday’s Farmers’ Market, when hundreds will pass through downtown.
Reed also received positive feedback. “We’re very pleased with the design, and people seem to like it, from what I’ve heard,” he said. “The gateway is something neat to help identify the downtown area.”
While the closure of Oak Street between Brentwood Boulevard and First Street did create traffic congestion Monday, Reed said he’s grateful for the public’s patience. Street closures have been an inconvenience throughout the summer, but according to Reed, the downtown streetscape project should be completed by October. The next step in the plan is to complete the fountain at the corner of Oak and First streets, which was also designed by Crannell.