West Oakland 2025 // The Crucible - West Oakland 2025 Monopoly

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DESIGN REPORT The Crucible X Infinity Communication by Design /// Fall Semester 2019, CCA

















About the Team


1. OVERVIEW Welcome aboard! This document will provide out everything you need to know about the team Infinity8 and the project we executed along with our community partner, The Crucible. The Crucible is an Industrial Arts school centered in the heart of West Oakland. A proud and dynamic space for professional and budding makers, it is the largest non-profit industrial arts school in the United States. Being a community partner for years, they are in the face of a massive gentrification drive. The neighborhood is undergoing a sea of changes, and they (the Crucible) tapped into our expertise, to visually represent the data of the estimated changes, the application of which could be helpful to them, in making strategic business decisions. The primary challenge was visually representing the vast data in itself. As a team with varied skill-sets and an overall optimistic attitude, we pondered over unique yet effective ways to craft a story with relevant data points to convey the impact. We attempted to address this complex using the mechanics of play. We designed a customised Monopoly to help The Crucible Read ahead to find out more


2. INTRODUCTION In the past ten years, according to The New York Times Magazine, Oakland has evolved from a city which few people wanted to live in, into one of the 50 Best Places in the World to visit in 2018. During that time, residential and commercial real estate prices have soared, and the amount of commercial development has skyrocketed. For non-profit industrials arts school, The Crucible, located in a 56,000 square foot warehouse in West Oakland, the developments have been dramatic with enormous changes happening around the neighborhood.

For that reason, The Crucible started a Futures Committee, which is a group of board members and advisors who can look both ways of the changes around the street. The Committee can also look into alternative financing models as the Crucible looks ahead to funding its building and other improvements that it will need to make. One goal of the Committee is to explore and assess the evolving development and footprint of the West Oakland 7th Street corridor and implications for The Crucible. With the development underway, the requirement for team infinity8 was to design a set of graphics and other communication tools around the real estate development and demographic shifts occurring in West Oakland over the next five years.





Secondary Research

Research Plan Report



Concept Generation

Expert Interview

Concept Execution






3.1_Process As a team, we worked in tandem with The Crucible, across several meetings. We initiated the first meeting to understand our scope of work. We found out that West Oakland is going through a significant transition with a variety of projects coming its way over the next few years. Our brief was create broadly to create a data-informed narrative about the changing face of West Oakland.


Our project focuses on visualizing the impact of real estate development and demographic changes that West Oakland will face. Our points of contact at The Crucible’s were Susan Mernit and Lillianna Torres, both of whom were very helpful in providing relevant information and making timely decisions, throughout.

3.1.1_Scope Overall we scoped through a vast amount of data only to collate and bring it down to what is relevant in terms of impact and time. Developments outside a 1-mile radius of the Crucible and scheduled to happen after 2025 were not taken into consideration.

3.1.2_Stakeholder Based on all the information we've gathered, we also identified our key stakeholders. In the center of our focus is the crew of The Crucible. Going outward is the Future Committee. In the other circle is the community of West Oakland.

3.2_Secondary Research To start with, The Crucible shared with us several documents and other resources that provided data on the various activities undertaken. As we began to develop an understanding of the new developments, we browsed through various other resources–Government and real estate company websites–to seek out more in-depth information. We then converged to compile all the findings into a research report and shared it with The Crucible, asking for clarification and validation.


3.2.1_Learnings and Insights As San Francisco and Silicon Valley have become unaffordable even for professionals earning six-figure salaries, capital has migrated to Oakland via new residents — over 40,000 since 2007 — as well as jobs and development.





The location and transportation will bring a sea of change for Oakland, a city that once suffered for catastrophic disinvestment is now plagued by a tidal wave of aggressive reinvestment. The gentrification is expected to bring new developments in terms of employment, luxury housing and better facilities for BART. On the downside, the proximity to San Francisco and mass transit, this part of Oakland can expect a shifting social structure, with the recent influx of new money from more affluent arrivals. Additionally, the fabric of West Oakland as a Center for the Arts, notably Jazz music is threatened. With the proposed developments underway, there are fewer spots for affordable housing and increased possibilities of clashes between the haves and have nots. If trends of the past 15 years continue, Oakland's Black population could fall to as few as 70,000 people from 140,000 in 2000, declining from roughly 35% of the city's total population to a mere 16%, by 2030. This rapid de-Blackening of the East Bay's urban core has far-reaching consequences for the region's future political, cultural, and economic identity. 09


3.3.1_Opportunity Statement With the data at our disposal, we began exploring the storytelling narrative of how to put across, the changes to come, engagingly. It left us with two pressing challenge statements

How might we make layered data about upcoming developments more digestible? How might we help the Crucible see the future? 10


3.3.2_Design Principles In order for us to help The Crucible making their future decisions, we set some “rules� on designing our product. After much deliberation, we agreed upon four actionable principles that we would keep in mind while brainstorming ideas for our design and execution phase, which were as follows.





Our final design should be easy to understand and digestible which means it should be present to a vast amount of audiences.

It should be easily accessible for our clients in different circumstances.






It should show the changing faces of West Oakland and what the future looks like to The Crucible.

It should bring the audience on an engaging journey to explore the future of West Oakland.


4. CONCEPT 4.1__Explore Concept Workshop We then diverged into the second part of our double diamond to answer these questions. We started with finding answers which fit into the design principle and then immersed ourselves in several brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas for representation. After a lot of deliberation, we conceptualized three unique narratives that would do justice to the problem.

4.2_Proposal Maps

1 2

Using layers of the map to slice the various data points in different ways. The map showcases what the current cityscape looks like and documents the changes to come in the next few years.

Game A game that would highlight the changes in the neighborhood by engaging players in a fun manner with an aim to create aplayful way to consume the data.


3 16

A storyboard in the lives of residents of Oakland which would depict, what life is like in Oakland 2025. In the interest of understanding the changes, this idea focuses on getting a point of view of the prospective residents.


4.3 TESTING & VALIDATION 4.3__Rapid Prototyping Workshop We conducted our first prototype session with our classmates and received some potent feedback. Based on the feedback, we realized that balancing the game and data is important for our project. Before the user testing session, we were focusing too much on the playfulness of Monopoly. During the user testing session, all three of our testers questioned the connections between the monopoly board and West Oakland. So they left us with some questions that needed solving: How can we make the aesthetic of the monopoly and seventh street map coherent? Who is going to play the game? What is the goal of the game? How can we learn key data points through the game? Upon receiving the feedback from our user testing of the prototype, we noticed the game lacked context, and it did not seem to resonate with what we wanted to interpret.



4.4 EXPERT INTERVIEW To address the qusetions that arose from the user testing, we set a meeting with Shawnee Keck, a data expert, and a future committee member. We consulted her about what could be done differently. Not only did she give us a fresh lens as to review our data with but also provided tools to sift out relevant data and estimate demographic changes. Shawnee gave us a clear picture of what the happenings were around the West Oakland neighborhood and what gentrification look like. Her words of wisdom backed up by years of experience across the globe gave us the much-needed confidence in our project.

Oakland as a city is concerned with equality and justice and the gentrification that is expected to happen doesn’t do them any favours in their attempt to maintain a peaceful social structure. In her opinion most major cities would be getting more vertical and cities in the United States are playing catch up, so in many ways the gentrification drive is inevitable. In terms of calculating projections, Shawnee suggested simple guesstimations, where we could find out how many units each project had and the bedroom structure. Based on the number of bedrooms we could estimate how many people occupied each unit. For instance, 1b1b (1 bedroom 1 bathroom) is usually occupied by 2 occupants. It’s with these estimates in mind, did we calculate the numbers that would make a huge impact for West Oakland in the years to come.




We now had a clear idea of what we had to do, so we proceeded with executing. We borrowed a monopoly board and began playing the game to understand how we exactly want to replace the existing street names with data of the seventh street. With the board acting as a catalyst, we structured elements around it. We embedded and entire map of the 7th street into the center of the board and marked out directions from the building to the sections of the board. In order to make the map and the game board more coherent, we have recreated 7th street into a visual style that fits into the monopoly aesthetic.


We then proceeded to create supporting elements such as monopoly money, and property cards. The property cards provide all the details of the particular development such as address, expected date of completion, number of units, bedroom specifications and it’s distance from The Crucible. Chance cards are replaced by impact cards giving a macro level picture of the demographic changes to come, in a comparative manner. We have also came up with a set of personas (player tokens) that represent the population originally from West Oakland as well as the new populations that is to come. To summarize all the data and information we used in the monopoly board, we also created a summary brochure. The brochure includes a brief overview of what the game is, a key to the data points, icons, personas, and a map of the 7th street. 23

West Oakland Monopoly Board











West Oakland Monopoly Money

PA N O R A M I C BUILDING 3 500 Kirkham st, Oaklånd, CA, 94607 Market Rate units


Below Market Rate


Retail space sq. ft.

PA N O R A M I C B U I LD I N G 3 Project starts 2026


Stories Height in ft. Parking 1b1b (28) 2b2b (242)

0.13 Miles

3650 32 338 59

4b4b (155) 5b5b (31)


West Oakland Monopoly Property Cards


West Oakland 2025 Icon Library



The Crucible

Coffee Shop

Distance To The Crucible

Bike Shop

Low-income/ Public Housing

Residential Buildings

Retail Spaces

About the Project

In the past ten years, Oakland has evolved from a city which few people wanted to live in, into one of the 50 Best Places in the World to visit in 2018. During that time, residential and commercial real estate prices have soared, and the amount of commercial development has skyrocketed.


Office Spaces



About the Team



Public Park



The Infinity8 is a four-person design studio with a strong focus on data-informed storytelling. We are based out of a cloud in San Francisco, and our team includes Mahesh, Wilson, GinGin & Shivani. We believe that the design process is infinitely iterative.

Public organizations


36 Years old, Member of Future Committee at the Crucible. Making profound plan for this Industrial art school.

26 Years old, Construction company Worker. Struggle to live in West Oakland after gentrification. Construction worker

View full Report here.

The Helmsman of Crucible



28 Years old, Tech company employee,Working at Uber. Lives in Panoramic West Oakland.

41 Years old, Real estate agent in West Oakland. Works at Panoramic leasing newcomers.

Product Manager in Tech Company

Real estate Agent


Patrick 8th St.

7th St.


Union St.

Mandela Pkwy





5th St.







Youth Population 5-19 ............Expected increase of 5.3%







480,270 Adult Population 20-44 ...........Expected increase of 5.2% Middle-aged Population 44-64 .....Expected increase of 6.3%

West Oakland Monopoly Brochure



Seniors Population 65+ ............Expected increase of 23%

In the future, we have also invisioned a digital version of our Monopoly game. The user can view the information on a digital device.




The project tested our skills in understanding a challenge being faced by the community. We leveraged our varied backgrounds and skills to make a difficult subject like gentrification slightly more approachable. Gameplay is a helpful narrative tool when the past, present, and future can be clearly communicated and key details are not lost in translation. We kept in mind that the project is only an informational and educational tool. The game is not designed to follow a particular story or take a stand, but aims to dispense information as objectively as it can. As a team, we pushed ourselves to think beyond traditional data visualizations and tested our creative abilities to best represent the complexity of the data, the difficult subject and the thousands of people most impacted by the change. It is gratifying to know that our ideas and efforts are well appreciated, and will make a difference in The Crucible’s internal strategic decisions.



The Infinity is a four-person design studio with a strong focus on data-informed storytelling. We are based out of a cloud in San Francisco, and our team includes Mahesh, Wilson, Gin Gin, and Shivani. We believe that the design process is infinitely iterative. We are an intentionally small, independent team of designers from different backgrounds. Our assortment of expertise allows us to tackle a range of projects–from industrial design to interaction design, visual communication, and data visualization. We thrive on creating content-driven narratives with keen attention to visual detail. We specialize in relationship building and believe that truly great work is born out of collaboration. We’re not afraid to fail, and strive to craft experiences that instill a similar inspiration in people. We foster an enthusiastic environment filled with optimistic people who take their work more seriously than themselves. 30



Mahesh Kantheti Ministry of language 1. I love writing. Long copy or short. I’m happy to write as required. Whatever job role I may hold over the years, the copywriter within me will always live-on. 2. I figure things out. I’ve often been thrown to manage events and conduct research in rural areas with a negligible understanding of how things work. I managed to execute by asking the right questions and fostering good relationships with my colleagues. 3. I love using different tools. Currently, I am proficient with Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator. I also have a fondness for iMovie and Keynote. That stated I love learning new technical skills. I welcome the chance to continuously update my skill-set and improve my technical proficiency. 4. I can speak to crowds. As a theatre actor, I’ve learnt to work with different people and improve my listening and collaborative skills 5. I can take NO for an answer. Working in the creative field has given me several reality checks to not get too attached to an idea. In short, I don’t take things personally if I don’t get my way. Outside of work, I like reading history, studying maps, and can hold conversations regarding worldly affairs, rock music, and cricket. I also enjoy learning how to code and figuring out the nuances of new design tools.

mahesh.kantheti@cca.edu 32

Wilson Wu Happiness monitor Instead of being a skyscraper, I always consider myself a bridge, which connects, communicate and conduces. I have an enthusiastic attitude that is contagious to all of my colleagues. Therefore, I devote myself to be a facilitator. Not only in the professional environment but also in creating a positive relationship between people and technology. I have an academic background in industrial design, professional experience as a visual designer and UX designer for prestigious tech-industries in Taiwan. I have dedicated myself to advancing into a multi-disciplinary product designer. With a holistic standpoint from different design faculties, I can identify the many and various factors that have an impact on a complex situation and converge it into a systematic design strategy. I have the strength to reveal the underlying possibility through user insight and convert it into an inspiring user experience. My specialties include user experience design, user interface design, visual communication, and industrial design. Dedicated to become a systematic Product designer.

shunweiwilson@cca.edu 33

Shivani Singh Note-taker + Doodler A graphic designer learning to build real world interactions in a participatory manner. In a past life, I've worked in advertising and brand consulting–designing logos, visual systems and communication collaterals for businesses, large and small, local and global, in teams and silos. Interdisciplinary teams and well-defined processes bring out the best in me. I like to design for discovery and delight, in an effort to balance intent and opinion with play. When not meeting deadlines, you might find me watching filmmakers talk about film making, singing to my ukulele, reading word-origin stories or being competitive at game night. I also moonlight generating names for personal and commercial ventures.

shivani.singh@cca.edu 34

GinGin Xie Team Mama I see myself as an observer and thinker. I like to observe things around me and think about what can possibly happen to them. Observation helped me pay attention to details that are hidden. I also see myself as a problem solver. I love detective books, and I love playing puzzle games. Once I see a problem, I seek for an answer. I have a wide range of hobbies: singing, surfing, making, reading, and drawing. I love to use drawing to express my feelings. I believe that drawings have the special power to speak for themselves. And I draw to understand myself better. I believe clear self-understanding is the fundamental skill for being an artist and designer. I believe that a good designer should know what they want in order to make a good design. With my previous study in Jewelry and Metal arts. I want to see changes in the traditional jewelry industry. I want to design wearable technologies to bring innovation and disruption to how people normally think about jewelry.

qxie@cca.edu 35

Mahesh Kantheti Wilson Wu Shivani Singh GinGin Xie

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