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Group 4 Concludes Third Community Center Workshop

Post Date:11/10/2017 3:55 PM

Group 4 Architecture recently completed its third and final Millbrae Community Center public open house. Over the past five months, Group 4 has held three open houses-workshops to engage the community and its leaders in identifying needs and aspirations on what they would like to see in the future Community Center. While not every program or facility identified will be included the final plan, the consensus on community priorities has been consistently clear.

During the first workshop, Group 4 hosted an open idea session that allowed community members to brainstorm and list what features and elements they wanted in the future Community Center. Things like better access to Central Park, flexible classroom space, active recreation spaces, and an area for formal events were highly supported.

“We need to make sure we preserve the limited open space and green fields we do have,” said one participant. “The new Community Center needs to incorporate Central Park, and it needs to be easily accessible so it can be used for large formal and informal events.”

“What we learned from the first meeting was that the community really wanted an integration of the community center and Central Park,” said Dawn Merkes, a principal at Group 4 Architecture. “It became very apparent that having plenty of activity spaces, both indoors and outdoors, is important to the community. With Central Park next door, this is one of the biggest opportunities we have to make the two spaces cohesive.”

During the second workshop, Group 4 presented three concepts that integrated the Community Center and Central Park. Some of the concepts, like placing the building in the park and using the Community Center as a park pavilion, were not highly supported. But what did stand out, and what the community overwhelmingly supported, was imagining the new community center as a  “porch” to Central Park.

“So far, we’ve heard back from more than 1,200 people who attended the workshops or filled out the online surveys,” said Merkes. “53% of respondents liked the park as a community center porch, using the park as an extension of the community center. The other element that was widely agreed upon was having a large gymnasium that would meet the needs of residents of all ages.”

On October 24, Group 4 held its final workshop and presented four refined building layouts with two Central Park layouts to get feedback on both the evaluation criteria and the layouts. Based on community input during the workshop, which was attended by members of the City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission, Group 4 is seeing that consensus is leaning towards the “C3-Amphitheater” option as the preferred building layout. The main variables being whether it is a single building or multiple buildings, and whether the parks maintenance building stays in the park or is relocated.

“The major problem I see with having the gym and Community Center connected is that students from Taylor Middle School will cut through, and other activities at the gym could really disturb what’s going on in the classrooms,” said one participant. This sentiment was supported by many attendees.

Over the next two weeks, Group 4 will take all the feedback from the open houses, workshops, pop-up kiosks, and online surveys, and develop a recommended Millbrae Community Center Master Plan for the City Council to consider on Nov. 28. The final master plan will summarize the needs assessment, program options, site and building layouts, and the recommendations for the Council to consider.

In addition to Community Center building and layout concepts, the report will provide an implementation plan with project budgets and funding strategies. While the insurance settlement did provide the City with just under $6.2 million, the emerging preferred project’s costs are expected to $30 million.

To learn more about the various options presented at the third public workshop and share your thoughts on the options, please visit:


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