Building Industry Gathering (BIG) Oakland, a 3,650-square-foot coworking space for architects, engineers, and construction workers, has officially opened in Downtown Oakland‘s Frank Ogawa Plaza. The location is a first-of-its-kind concept for the Bay Area and is meant to help smaller companies compete with bigger offices with more elaborate resources. The founders noted that female- and minority-owned businesses, in particular, are frequently smaller and in need of the tools that only larger companies have.
BIG is the brainchild of architect and cofounder Deanna Van Buren of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), contractor Jean Bjork of the Bjork Construction Company, architect Oscia Wilson of Google Real Estate, and developer Kyle Rawlins of DJDS. Designing Justice + Designing Spaces is an Oakland-based firm dedicated to attacking “the root causes of mass incarceration” as a way to address issues of social inequality. Its work has included designs for community centers, and mobile learning and shelter spaces.
The coworking space is kitted out with everything a small company needs to operate, including plotters, large-scale printers, review tables, and a material library curated and cultivated by Rachel Stallworth of Stallworth Enterprises.
BIG will also hold regular networking and education opportunities for its members to help bolster their connections.
“The building and construction industry is still very much an old boy network where new opportunities often depend on who you know, and this puts smaller firms and those run by women and minorities at a disadvantage,” said Bjork in a press release. “Our goal is to create an ecosystem of businesses from throughout the industry so they can collaborate and easily form the type of sophisticated teams that are needed to win big projects.”