Category Archives: News

MacArthur Annex on 7×7

The MacArthur Annex is in the news again, this time in 7×7. You can check it out here

Baran Studio Architecture in the SF Chronicle Style Section

The MacArthur Annex Shipping Container ‘Creative Community’ was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle Style Section this past Sunday. The focus is on the variety of individual creative businesses that occupy the project, with some discussion of the architectural intent. One of the most exciting aspects of this project is how it reflects an indirect connection to Oakland, not just to the network of shipping containers (which also connect to a much wider, global context), but also how it relates to the culture of small, independent, creative businesses. The project is a great example of layered connections and adaptations, both by design and as the organic architectural evolution.

Check out the article here.


Matt Baran at USC Architecture Generation Next Pecha Kucha

I gave a very short presentation at USC a few weeks ago. For those of you that are not familiar with the Pecha Kucha format, it is intended to be a very focused method for getting an idea across. 20 slides for 20 seconds each to be precise. My presentation was even shorter – 15 slides for 20 seconds each, which gave me about 5 minutes to deliver the idea. More information about Pecha Kucha can be found here.

The video of the presentation is below. There are 20 USC grads in all. I’m 2nd in the lineup, starting around the 6 minute mark. 



Baran Studio Architecture in the San Francisco Chronicle

John King, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Architecture Critic, has written an article on the development happening in and around the Mountain View Cemetery. A number of parcels were recently sold off and are in various stages of construction. Piedmont Walk is one of them.

King had this to say about the project:

“For me, the unapologetic punch of Piedmont Walk is a knockout. The forms are simple but they’re delivered with conviction rather than repetition. And the closer you look the better it gets, with such touches as the outdoor staircases on the 21st century triple-deckers, with a black steel structure and perforated railings that together make industrial chic look almost suave.”:

You can check out the full article here.



Also posted in Piedmont Ave

Baran Studio Architecture in San Francisco Magazine

Our MacArthur Annex shipping container project was recently featured in San Francisco Magazine.  It’s an interesting piece that is as much about the businesses that have moved into the containers as it is about the architecture.  Check out the complete article here.

Photo by Aubrie Pick

Baran Studio Architecture Google Project Map

Some time ago, we created a map of our projects throughout California, and I thought to finally post it. The pins are by project type and are placed into a Google Map, so you can vary the zoom range for more or less detail. Below is a snapshot, click here for the actual map


Also posted in Projects

ULI Panel: Going Out on Your Own



I was honored to participate in the San Francisco ULI panel on starting your own business last week. It was an interesting to spend an evening with other entrepreneurs, and to hear about their challenges, successes, and failures. It gave me pause to look back on those earlier years and recall all that’s happened since then. Many of the questions were structural, and had more to do with dollar figures and the technicalities of starting a business. It being developer oriented, a lot of the discussion had to do with the specifics of starting a real estate business; how various assets performed and the like. One of the most provocative questions came at the end of the evening when someone asked “how much is enough?”

At that point I wondered, how much of what? While questions about profitability are essential to understanding how to form and run a business, I find the questions about ‘why’ more important, and much more interesting. If you don’t have a good reason to start up, I have to assume it won’t go well. I never really got into architecture to get rich, but I was drawn to it as an outlet for creativity. And while that’s not what I do all day, if I’m not doing it, I’m never far from it. I’ve also gotten some grief for talking about how architects have a ‘vocation rather than a chore’, a quote I borrowed from a recent book on creativity. But it rings true for me. Architecture is typically for love, not money.

It isn’t that I don’t think about money, just that I believe there is an underlying desire that comes first. Money is another constraint that I look at when trying to do good work. Both in how the studio itself performs, but also because budget is fundamental to every project. It provides another constraint, and constraints are the framework for architecture; they define your project, and how you work with them can separate a great project from a mediocre one. The studio was founded on it’s ability to do more with less, and that includes money.

So when I consider how much is enough, I turn my concerns to the ideology that is embedded in our DNA. Values like resilience, resourcefulness, improvisation, and collaboration are key. This is how we deal with project constraints, and it means that our efforts must continually evolve. I often think about how to explore our design output in new projects, and how to keep coming up with new ideas in the face of the consistency we are confronted by due to the pervasiveness of technology and social media. It is now very easy to communicate the image of an idea (less easy to communicate the idea itself). At the same time, I’ve never been interested in different for the sake of different. But that’s just one aspect of this practice. More generally speaking, lately I’ve been struggling with psychology, history, theory, culture, meaning, age and decay, infrastructure, materials, forms and spaces, politics, academics, and the future.

I hope that Baran Studio will continue to evolve and succeed in as many ways possible. And I hope our clients continue to succeed as well – many of them come to us for our ability to assist in this. And I also hope that the work continues to feed our passions, and give us purpose. You can never get enough of that. And I believe it’s why we started after all.


Also posted in Observations

Robot 5

Do you remember the scene in the movie Big when they create a toy that transforms from a building into a robot, and Tom Hanks proclaims “what’s fun about that?” I might’ve been the one kid that thought it was fun.

Here’s an animation from the first Baran Studio robot in some time. I will do my best to post updates on it’s development.

Also posted in Animation, Design, Robots

MacArthur Annex: Our Mixed-Use Container Community in the News

We have been working for some time on the MacArthur Annex project which is now under construction. It is a mixed-use container project that acts as an open architectural framework for a local community. The occupants will range from artists and craftsmen to professionals and small businesses. Included in the mix are a local coffee shop and a new beer garden brought to you by Farm League Design & Management Group, the team who recently launched Drake’s Dealership in Uptown Oakland. We look forward to a bustling space filled with art, work, food and drink.
Read more about the project on SF Gate.
Container Project
Also posted in Construction, On the Boards, Projects Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Baran Studio Architecture in the SF Business Times

We were recently mentioned in this San Francisco Business Times article about Madison Park Financial and John Protopapus:

Our project is the Gallot Lofts, a 40 unit apartment building in Oakland’s Jingletown neighborhood. We are currently working to obtain permits, and hope to start construction early next year.

Also posted in Design, Gallot Lofts, Projects