STORY BY NAINA SRIVASTAVA, PHOTOS BY ARYA NASIKKAR
The highly anticipated Los Altos Community Center is scheduled to open on Oct. 2.
The 24,500 square foot–center consists of 12 rooms, including a community room, three multipurpose rooms, conference rooms, a dance and fitness room, an arts and crafts room and dedicated rooms for preschoolers, teens and seniors.
“I think it’s been a long time coming that the community, the people in Los Altos have really wanted a new space to gather in,” said Mary Jo Price, the recreation supervisor for the City of Los Altos’ Recreation and Community Services Department.
The space will also feature public art curated by the Los Altos Public Arts Commision and an array of recreational games, including two outdoor bocce ball courts, a play structure and a ping pong table.
Each room in the community center will be used to host various activities and programming, and all are named after a different tree species, sporting names such as Grand Oak, Manzanita, Sycamore, Juniper and Birch. Larger rooms will have a rental fee, however there will be discounted rates for Los Altos residents.
Environmental sustainability has been a priority throughout the design process of the building, allowing the center to be Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design Gold equivalent.
“It is all electric, it has 7,500 square feet of solar panels on the roof and those are going to provide 60–90% of the electricity for the building,” Price said. “Everything in the building was created with environmental sustainability in mind, from the shape of the building to where the windows are.”
Representing Los Altos’s rich history has also been important throughout the process.
“The most exciting thing [is] these two murals that are being painted on the walls of the community center, [which] is going to happen mid-September,” Price said.
Painted by Morgan Bricca with research and design by Linda Gass, both murals will depict the landscape of Los Altos along Permanente Creek during different time periods, which have been extensively researched by the artist. The first mural will illustrate the landscape of Los Altos during the time which Ohlone inhabited the region, while the second depicts the same area of the creek in 1948, featuring the apricot orchards which once covered Los Altos.
According to Price, the center’s predecessor, which shared the same location, was originally built in the late 1940s and early 1950s as an elementary school, and was later converted to a community center in the 1970s.
Led by a task force of volunteer Los Altos residents, the pre-planning phase of the community center began in 2017 and lasted two years. Shortly after breaking ground in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic began, which caused a short pause in construction and extended manufacturing delays.
In adherence with COVID-19 guidelines, all visitors will be required to wear masks inside the center.
“We had hoped to do a big grand opening and just have it be an open house, but we realized that at this moment that isn’t a safe option and we want to make sure that everybody is safe and feels comfortable,” Price said.
Instead, the opening will be spread over the length of multiple days and only a small group of residents will be permitted to tour initially.
Bocce ball courts and the senior center will be available following the center’s opening, however programming — classes, activities and special events — is expected to begin later in the fall.
“It’ll be exciting that when we’re all ready to do that, in Los Altos, we’ll have this beautiful brand new space,” Price said.
Monday, Aug. 23: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the community center is LEED certified (it’s LEED equivalent) and that it will have a basketball court (it does not). The names of the artists painting the murals have also been added.