Vashon Center for the Arts

Vashon Island, Washington

Project Size:

23,474 square feetSeating capacity: 300 seats

Project Status:

Completed 2016

LEED Status:

Certified LEED New Construction Silver


Arts + Culture

Vashon Center for the Arts is a new, multi-purpose performance space that establishes a vibrant, inviting civic presence as the center for arts events on Vashon Island. Functioning as a gallery and events space in addition to providing a destination regional theater, the project celebrates the distinct character of a rural yet sophisticated island community and supports a rich arts culture for all ages.

Site and Program
The new facility expands the arts campus of Vashon Allied Arts, headquartered at the historic Blue Heron Arts Center constructed in 1912, and progresses its mission to serve the multiple generations of visual and performing artists on the Island. As part of the expansion, two acres of adjacent wetlands are restored to serve as an interpretive center and sculpture garden, creating a five-acre campus encompassing both buildings.

The program for the new facility features a 300-seat performance hall, an art gallery, a large lobby that can accommodate special gatherings, and theater support spaces such as dressing rooms, a green room/multipurpose classroom, a wardrobe room, and a loading area. The performance hall includes a full stage, orchestra pit, a catwalk system, and a tension grid above the stage. Superior natural acoustics serve the Island’s music companies such as symphony, chorale, and opera, while an adaptable configuration system can adjust the hall to support drama, dance, lectures, and amplified music.

The exterior character of the building draws on the unique community traditions of Vashon Island, emphasizing natural materials and Pacific Northwest craftsmanship blended with modern detailing appropriate to a destination regional arts center. A long gabled roof -- a familiar form on the island—shelters the majority of the structure, its open end infilled with large transparent windows defining the lobby pre-function spaces facing the street. Natural light floods these spaces by day, while at night the interior lighting glows as a community lantern.

The gabled form is juxtaposed against smaller volumes at either end. The gallery marks the public entry courtyard, clad in weathered steel panels which are capped with translucent, ribbon clerestory windows combining both a rustic and refined aesthetic against the wood-clad gable form. The back-of-house support spaces are expressed in a vertical siding that relates to the scale and texture of the adjacent Blue Heron building.