EPACENTER Youth Arts & Music Center was conceived and developed by the youth of East Palo Alto. They took the lead, selecting WHY to architect the center’s campus unique to their vision, and their needs. The participatory design process resulted in ample space for playful and free expression, alongside state-of-the-art facilities that provide the infrastructures for community and social engagement across the fields of culinary, fine, and musical arts; as well as physical education and dance, full-family support areas and services, and other social and educational activities. Funded by the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, the development center and its free programs set the stage for current and future generations of youth and their families to continue to imagine, to gather, and to celebrate creativity together.  


From our symbiotic collaboration with the East Palo Alto youth, to the design of the space, continue reading to get the scoop on what others are saying about the project.



Photography: David Allen Studio



Nadine Rambeau, executive director of EPACENTER, spoke with Modern Luxury Silicon Valley to discuss the new arts and music center, citing her admiration for the youth of Palo Alto and their sustainability-focused vision. The space we ultimately created together stands the test of time for a better tomorrow, actively addressing local environmental issues such as water conservation, responsible land use, and renewable energy.

What impresses me most about the facility is how cognizant the students were of the need to build for sustainability. They were very serious about that—reclaiming access to sustainable materials and design techniques that would sustain their future, not to mention the fact that they saw that as a need early in the design process. This is something that will keep giving back to their community for generations to come.”

Read Nadine’s interview here.



Photography: Christopher Bagley




Characterized by a balance of both public and private spaces, EPACENTER’s unique programmatic flow provides Palo Alto youth and their families with light-filled interiors, plus multiple sites for students to showcase their creativity through stages, sound systems, dance floors and more. Sharing his thoughts on the project with the Nob Hill Gazette, WHY Founder and Creative Director Kulapat Yantrasast describes the result as not just a building — but a village where the community can grow, cultivate and express their creativity.

“EPACENTER’s hallmark is its indoor-outdoor flow, with windows that open for ventilation, studios with doors that access the outside, and a courtyard with a large roof for shade. ‘I didn’t think of it as a building but as a village, a hacienda,’ shares WHY Founder Kulapat Yantrasast.”

Read more on Kulapat’s thoughts here.



Photography: Christopher Bagley




Paying homage to the distinctly diverse ecology and community of Palo Alto, WHY developed a one-of-a-kind palette for EPACENTER. Using natural materials such as Douglas fir plywood, maple wood, cedar and pine combined with others such as glass and translucent polycarbonate plastic, we brought high-impact architectural aesthetics to life within a high-function, “state-of-the-art building” (as The Mercury News summarized it). The resulting spaces collaborate as a modern nod to the culturally rich Bay Area city, its most compelling storyline being its utility for the youth involved in its overall design from the very start. 

Read more of Mercury News’s take on the space here.



Photography: Christopher Bagley


Born from a partnership with locals, a deep understanding of the community from all its angles was intrinsic to the design process and to the finished project — environmentally, socially, and beyond. With the Center’s doors now open and its free art programs in full swing, the future is in the hands of East Palo Alto: its youth, its families, and its inextinguishable creative spirit.

May 12th, 2022
Education,  Performing Arts,  Programming,  Sustainability
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