East Palo Alto Youth Arts & Music Center

Catalyzing a Community by Focusing on the Next Generation

In Summer 2015, wHY was invited to respond to a request for qualifications and proposal to design a new youth arts and music center (YAMC) in East Palo Alto, historically one of the most dangerous areas in the United States and home to a diverse citizenship of minorities and immigrants.

Upon receiving the commission, wHY was tasked to commence by collaborating with young people in the area to define the project vision, develop the program and design, and to create partnerships, programs and events that build community and highlight the talents and strengths of East Palo Alto’s youth. The eight-month long process involved multiple community engagements to build trust and establish expectations for the YAMC, and more importantly, to effectively identify and harness the creative discussions and engagements into the final design.

Working in collaboration with Hood Studio, the pragmatic and poetic design for the building and surrounding grounds re-imagines the post-industrial marshland site, which sits in close proximity to the Bay. More than an arts center, the community pavilion is open and welcoming with extensive opportunities for indoor-outdoor programs. It also addresses the problem of gentrification through unification by providing a fertile environment for the community to mature through creative production. For example, one of the key design approaches is to upcycle salvaged industrial elements found around the city in the architecture of the building. By shedding light the past and present, wHY’s holistic approach serves this community’s future in wholesome and environmentally responsible ways.

  • Date
    2015-2019
  • Workshops
    Buildings
  • Client
    John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, City of East Palo Alto
  • Location
    East Palo Alto, CA
  • Area
    24,000 sq. ft.
  • Role
    Lead Architect
  • Status
    Under Construction

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