Seattle’s Highland Park neighborhood is set to welcome a new focal point for community gatherings and arts with the Highland Park Improvement Club Celebration Center. Currently on the boards, the modern 6,100 square foot facility is poised to become the heart of the neighborhood, offering a warm and inclusive environment for various community activities and an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of the community while embracing its history and urban surroundings.
The project team, led by the architecture firm Wittman Estes and structural engineering firm Frank Company, ensured the design of the Celebration Center was shaped by input from the community, aligning it with their values and aspirations. It places a strong emphasis on seamless indoor/outdoor connections, inclusivity and flexible spaces that can evolve and adapt as the community grows, according to information from the architecture firm.
“HPIC is a new cultural hub for the Highland Park community and we wanted [the] architecture to promote local music and culture. The community asked for a building to promote connection and inclusivity, so the outward design expression draws people inside,” said Matt Wittman of Wittman Estes.
The Celebration Center is a multi-purpose hub ready to host a wide array of activities and events, from musical performances and special events to weddings, birthdays, wakes, local meetings, classes and social gatherings. The facility is set to include a bar/cafe, a kitchen and spaces dedicated to supporting performances and other community events.
One of the main features of the Celebration Center is its connection with the natural environment. Large sliding glass doors are intended to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing events to flow out into exterior gathering areas and gardens. The building’s sloping roof design not only welcomes northern daylight but also maximizes southern solar harvesting. As described by the design team, a photovoltaic array will cover most of the roof, generating more energy than the building consumes – adding to the Center’s sustainable design.
“A 60-foot bay of north clerestory windows brings in natural daylight, while the 1,500 square foot south facing solar array will harvest the sun’s energy to produce 25,000 watts of annual power. The building has state-of-the-art high efficiency heating, cooling and ventilation systems,” added Wittman.
Inside, the Celebration Center’s primary space can be subdivided into zones to host a variety of activities, from art classes to educational programs. This adaptability ensures that the center will remain relevant for the current and future needs of the growing and diverse population, serving as a hub for arts and community gatherings. Importantly, it will also function as an emergency hub for the neighborhood.
“HPIC is a gathering space for West Seattle and beyond,” Wittman said.
Founded in 1919, HPIC is a nonprofit organization entirely powered by volunteers. Their website states that its mission is rooted in enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhood. It serves as an inclusive gathering place that hosts programs celebrating the diverse arts and culture of the community while fostering cross-generational engagement.