Sammamish Community YMCA

Sammamish, Washington

Sammamish, Washington is a young community in the middle of previously-unincorporated King County. Growth in the area has occurred over the last 50 years incrementally without a master plan. Now a city, a major focus has been placed on creating community space. During the past decade, Sammamish has placed an emphasis on building a park and trail system; the next step included a community center.

LocationSammamish, Washington

ClientCity of Sammamish, Washington



Square Footage69,000


Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture worked with Sammamish residents at five community workshops. We listened to citizen “hopes, dreams and fears;” developed program priorities; studied three sites for a community center in detail; prepared preliminary cost estimates; and identified a selected site for further study.

The 69,000 sf community center is a wonderful addition to the selected site, which is adjacent to the existing City Hall, library and commons park. Our challenge was to create an iconic community building with a visually interesting roofscape, while preserving views of the Bellevue and Seattle skylines and the majestic Olympic range in the distance. The facility includes a variety of public-use areas, with a fitness area on the upper level, all with views to the park. The remaining fee spaces are located on the lower level with a single control point. Facility parking is in a structured garage built into the hill, with extra parking provided for existing city amenities. The upper level extends the existing plaza space to the front door of the new center.

Cascade Mountains

Sammamish, Washington is a recently incorporated City located west of Seattle atop a heavily forested plateau, at the base of the Cascade Mountains. The Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center (SCAC) is the most recent addition to the community’s civic campus in the heart of the community.

The civic campus is organized around a public plaza with views to the skylines of Bellevue and Seattle and the majestic Olympic range beyond. Made up of the City Hall, Public Library, Commons Park and now the SCAC, the civic campus and building site are perched on the edge of a steep hillside surrounded by lush, old growth forest made up of tall, thin trees, and filled with vibrant colors and dappled natural light. The design goal was to extend the experience of traveling through this forest into the building through fenestration, lighting and overall form. Much like a typical Pacific Northwest house along the coast, the Community Center design is nestled into the hillside with a very modest, unassuming form at the entry.

Upon entering, the building opens up as you travel through the space and down the hill; dramatically revealing the monumental views from the park side. These views are captured in all of the public-use areas and reinforce connection to the natural environment as you circulate through the space.


As the final component of the civic campus, the SCAC was designed to complete the civic campus and connect the Upper Commons public plaza with the Lower Commons open space park. The upper level of the building extends the existing plaza space to the front door of the new center. A 2-story parking structure built into the steep hill improves access for all buildings, draws visitors to the center of the site, and connects them to all elements of the civic center.

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