Amphitheater Project

With community support, Volunteer Park Trust is determined to do what it takes to replace the existing Amphitheater with a more functional and beautiful performance space that will greatly enhance the audience experience.

Volunteer Park Trust has completed a Capital Campaign feasibility study for the Volunteer Park Amphitheater Project. The study recommended that further steps are needed before we move forward with a fund raising campaign for the Amphitheater.

For the next year (2017-2018), Volunteer Park Trust will:

  • Conduct a marketing campaign to promote our successes in Volunteer Park
  • Increase public awareness of our projects
  • Promote the city’s need for a new Amphitheater in Volunteer Park.

In order to move forward with a capital campaign, we need a groundswell of support!

Do you want the Volunteer Park Amphitheater Project to succeed?

Message us to learn how you can get involved! Contact Jeff Crandall:


Amphitheater Project History

PART I: Feasibility Study —  In 2015, Volunteer Park Trust received a grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant program to explore the feasibility of improving or rebuilding the amphitheater stage structure. We used the funding to assess what will be needed to improve the space – things like a better sound system technology, upgraded public restrooms, or a regraded lawn – to attract performers and audiences.

Led by our competitively chosen consulting team of ORA Architects and Walker Macy Landscape Architects, over 30 performance groups and community organizations were interviewed for their feedback on what they’d like to see in a new Amphitheater.  Consultants were hired to research and address issues such as parking, traffic, and noise/acoustics.  Two public meetings were also held to gather input from park neighbors and the general public.

Some interesting results came out of the study, including the recommendation for moving the structure to a site slightly northwest of the current location, the inclusion of a green room that can be used for community classroom and exhibition space, and the need for a roof.

Download and read the final, 90-page pdf:  Feasibility Study & Design Program

PART II:  Schematic Design: Phase I (formerly titled “Concept Design”)  In 2016, Volunteer Park Trust received a 2nd grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant program to develop conceptual design.  Scheduled to last through August, this phase is using the information and recommendations from the Feasibility Study to develop preliminary conceptual drawings.  A public meeting presenting four concept designs was held on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 6-8PM at Miller Community Center. You can read about the meeting in the Capitol Hill Times here and in the Capitol Hill Blog here.

Download the Amphitheater Project Schematic Design: Phase I Final Report (formerly titled “Concept Design”)(9mb pdf file) or click here to view the Schematic Design: Phase I Final Report in Dropbox.

PART III: Schematic Design: Phase II — In 2016, Volunteer Park Trust received a generous 3rd grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant program to partially fund the development of schematic designs.  This phase started in late fall of 2016 and will lead us into Phase IV: Construction Documents in late 2017.


Arts in the Park for Over a Century

Centrally located on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park is the most complete and well‐preserved example of the Olmsted Brothers’ landscape design among Seattle city parks. It is often referred to as the crown jewel of Seattle’s Olmsted‐designed park system. The park plays a dual role as a citywide destination park and as a neighborhood park in one of Seattle’s most prominent and densely populated neighborhoods. Despite a few notable changes over the past century Volunteer Park retains its overall integrity. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and it is a city landmark, which confers significant protection for identified “contributing” park features.

From the beginning, Volunteer Park has contained structures to accommodate outdoor performances. In 1915, the city built a bandshell on the north side of the reservoir, at the site of the current stage. It was a wooden structure designed by prominent local architects Bebb & Gould. This structure was razed in 1947 and not replaced until 1971, when landscape architect Rich Haag designed the existing brick bandstand. At that time, the lawn in front of the stage was regraded to form an amphitheater.

Historical Park Photos

Photos: (left) Carl Gould-designed bandshell, built in 1915, used for 1932 Flag Day celebration. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, Item No. 30482. (right) Volunteer Park concourse, with original bandstand at center of pergola on right, 1910. Photo by Frank H Nowell. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, Item No. 30473.

An Amphitheater for the Future

The current performance space in Volunteer Park is in need of improvements that will allow it to meet the community’s evolving needs. The original Olmsted performance space, along the concourse, was designed for musical performances, as was the 1915 structure located at the site of the current performance space.

Today, a multitude of groups use the performance space for a wide variety of performances, presentations, and community gatherings. They are challenged by a wide range of problems, including inadequate acoustics for music and theater productions, no protection from the elements for performers, equipment, or instruments, no storage or costume changing space, no lighting, substandard restroom facilities, the inappropriate surface for dance performances, and no safe access for the disabled on stage or in the audience.

Current Amphitheater & Project Sign

Project Updates

Project Timeline

    • Step 1 Completed: Feasibility Study and Design Program Development: 2015-March 2016
    • Step 2 Underway: Architectural & Landscape Design for Amphitheater: Mid-2016–mid-2017
    • Step 3 Fundraising and Construction: 2017–2018
    • Step 4 Grand Opening Gala — Picnic in the Park: July 2019

Get Involved!

Send us an email, come to upcoming Trust events and talk with volunteers working on the project. We want to build enthusiasm and support for this project!


Thursday, April 6, 2017, 5-7PM.  Public Meeting to present the final schematic design for the Amphitheater. — COMPLETED

ORA Architects presented scale models and storyboards of the revised schematic design for public comment and feedback.  Many thanks to the Volunteer Park Conservatory for hosting this event!

Thursday, December 8, 2016 6-8PM at our Holiday in the Park event. — COMPLETED

ORA Architects presented scale models and storyboards of the schematic design for public comment and feedback. Over 100 people came to hear more about the Amphitheater Project and give their thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 1-2:00PM at the office of ORA Architects — COMPLETED

Thank you to everyone who attended the Focus Group for artists and performance groups to get community feedback for Phase III: Schematic Design.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016  6-8:00PM at Miller Community Center — COMPLETED

Thank you to everyone who attended our public presentation of four possible Concept Designs for the Volunteer Park Amphitheater. Your opinions and comments count!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 6-8:00 pm at Miller Community Center — COMPLETED

Amphitheater Project lead ORA Architects presented the DRAFT Feasibility Report & Design Study containing findings and recommendations from their months of community outreach and study.  YOUR public comments will be included in the final published version of this report.  Thank you for being a part of this amazing project and letting us know your ideas and thoughts.

Thursday, October 15th, 2015 6-8:30 pm at SAAM Auditorium — COMPLETED

Thank you for sharing your ideas for the Amphitheater and hearing what the consultants have learned so far about constraints and possibilities.  Read the 52-page PDF presenting the meeting Agenda, Presentation, Notes, and Public Comments here:  Presentation Materials & Public Comments


If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Trust at

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Project Materials