Unity Park

Ellensburg, WA


Reimagining a Central Park

People: Minus some significant scale, Unity Park is to Ellensburg what Central Park is to New York City — a rare respite from the built environment that surrounds it on all sides, in the heart of the downtown area. The community asked for the park to serve as a flexible, central space for both daily gatherings and special events of many sizes, for it to feel open, welcoming and inclusive, be useful in all four seasons, and be locally rooted. This is an important site to the people of Ellensburg, and offering them a solution that was simultaneously beautiful, approachable, and hard-working was our focus.

Architecture: The existing site was a parking lot with a decommissioned drive-thru bank building. The design team, in close collaboration with Landscape Architect Walker Macy, envisioned a welcoming, multi-use park that is a frequent gathering place and natural backdrop to daily life. Our team designed a visitor center and comfort station that provides gender-neutral restrooms with attached multipurpose concierge area that could be used as event support, ticketing, or information services depending on the day. The park includes event infrastructure including a permanent stage, event power, lighting, and storage for more. A plaza was created with integrated seating and shade structures, a water feature, and a flexible lawn for gathering. It also includes several forms of art and sculpture throughout, including the relocation of a well-known and well-loved Richard Beyer sculpture.

Research: The site is at the heart of a historic district. Every surrounding parcel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since the original structure from this site was lost in a fire, historic requirements are not mandatory, however historic sensitivity is strongly recommended. In response, the team developed a design language in concert with the nearby historic character through material, form, and building size and shape. Inspired by the brick neighborhood context and central visibility of the site, crisp detailing, clean material transitions, and a simple palette of dark clinker brick, black steel, and glass wrap the building in a timeless texture that will be both a backdrop and centerpiece.



Beyond the direct context, the design team was inspired by the Ellensburg Blue Agate–a gem that is unique to this area. The idea was simple: create a rugged  exterior, like a rock-encrusted raw gem, with a bright and glowing interior that is revealed upon close inspection.  The ceiling within each restroom as well as at the concierge tapers irregularly up towards the skylights above, creating a distinct geometric cavity. Each restroom interior is clad from head to toe in colorful tile–creating a pop of saturated color that contrasts from the desaturated material palette of the exterior and surrounding historic area. The place is welcoming and belongs to everyone.


Bull Statues: 1

Serving groups of: 2 - 10,000

Inspiration: Ellensburg Blue