The City of South Whittier, CA has plenty of attractions. Public art, historic homes, and even a 127-year-old school bell. But one thing the unincorporated city never had was a community center of its own. Last year, that all changed.
With support from Los Angeles County and the Community Development Commission to provide for the growing needs of the community, HMC designed a new center that honors and serves the city’s more than 58,000 residents. Following active community involvement and three years of planning and design, the end goal was to combine social services and recreational activities for all age groups in a safe, secure environment. Sitting on a prominent street corner, the new 20,000 square foot center pays homage to the community’s veterans with a memorial plaza. A pedestrian promenade then bisects the building through the lobby in a unifying gesture and continues to a landscaped park with lush gardens, walking track, par course with exercise equipment, and a shaded seating area. At night, the contemporary glass lobby illuminates the corner like a lantern. By day, it has views through the building and creates a gateway to the neighborhood. The space includes a multi-purpose room with an adjacent outdoor amphitheater for leasable events. There is a game room, café, conference rooms, community rooms for seniors, and classrooms. There is also dedicated space for Helpline Youth Counseling, which offers an after school tutoring and counseling program for youths and their families. Additionally, the project team’s hard work resulted in exceeding the sustainability goals for the project achieving LEED Gold certification from the USGBC. The new center has encouraged an atmosphere conducive to community spirit and active participation in the affairs and progress of the community.