Los Altos Community Center opens after years of planning and construction


Rohan Vaswani

The Los Altos Community Center had its grand opening on Saturday, October 2, highlighting community speakers and giving attendees a tour of the space.

The Los Altos community center opened on Saturday, October 2, two years after the initial groundbreaking. To celebrate the opening of the center, the City of Los Altos held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, featuring speakers such as Chair of the Los Altos History Museum Gary Hedden, architects from the firm that designed the center and Los Altos Mayor Neysa Fligor.

Many speakers at the ribbon-cutting highlighted the variety of new services offered to community members of all ages and the apt timing of its completion.

“It’s a gathering space,” Fligor said. “Especially coming out of COVID, where everybody was in their own homes and isolated, it’s perfect timing for this place where people can meet up, celebrate, hold events and participate in community programs. It’s like a living room for the entire community.”

The new community center includes an outdoor garden, a commercial kitchen and large courtyard. There are also dedicated spaces for a variety of age groups, including teen and senior spaces.

The Juniper room, which serves teens in sixth to twelfth grade, was designed with simplicity and broad appeal in mind, according to Teen Coordinator Will Hannel. The room features a sound system, multiple charging stations, and a patio with a ping-pong table. Hannel hopes teens will be able to use this space both for academic purposes, such as homework, as well as for leisure and scheduled programming.

The community center stands on what used to be Los Altos’ Hillview Community Center. The process of updating Hillview Community Center, which city officials felt had become outdated, required substantial community involvement, according to Hedden. After Measure A, which aimed to put $65 million toward a community center, was voted no, the city council revisited the budget and assembled a task force. The task force held 13 meetings from June to December of 2017, and took input from residents to decide on the shape, size, floor plan, colors and building materials.

Principal Janet Tam and senior associate and project manager James Gwise of Noel and Tam, the architecture firm behind the community center, spoke about the environmentally-conscious decisions made when designing the community center. The community center is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building. Solar panels on the roof, account for at least 90 percent of the center’s electricity. The building also contains water conservation features, ventilation systems and daylighting to foster a green space.

Prior to the center’s grand opening, the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, which used to live in the Shoup Park area and hunted in the area around the community center, met with Hedden and Los Altos History Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Ward to hold a blessing ceremony.

“It was very special, they burned different things that were sentimental, and gave blessings in their own language about our center, it’s history and their hopes for the community,” Fligor said. “It was a good feeling, knowing their ancestors were here before and they were here today, making sure this was a blessed space.”

The community center is now open fully to the public; more information can be found here.