Best Cultural Project: Modern Library Interprets Ancient Navajo Culture
Diné College Library, Shiprock, N.M.
Inspired by the Navajo people's respect for the interconnectivity between man and the natural world, this 19,500-sq-ft library invites the entire community to explore and learn. Its rounded shape echoes the traditional family hogan structure and is representative of the Navajo worldview.
Interpreting the Navajo perspective into a modern architectural form was "remarkably easy," says project architect Karl Derrah with DLR Group. "[Navajo] culture, combined with the interpretation of our designers, created a solution that is much stronger than might have been if kept apart."
Every facet of the building was designed to be fully appreciated by the Native American community. Central to Navajo culture and the library is the ancient tradition of storytelling. Surrounded by the building's arched forms and billowing walls, a translucent-blue octagonal storytelling room sits at the heart of the library. A 250-seat lecture hall provides another venue for community use.
Viewpoints frame and connect visitors to culturally important landmarks in the Shiprock, N.M., area, while other spaces relate to sacred directions and celestial objects. Native building materials such as stone echo traditional building techniques. Locally available and recycled materials were used wherever possible.
Designers used energy modeling software to maximize glazing and to make the building appear transparent while staying highly energy efficient. Rooflines were extended to shield glazing from direct sun.
Many ideas for the design came directly from the Navajo community, but some goals initially seemed out of reach. "During the early stages of the project, a series of brainstorming sessions was held to address budget issues that threatened to diminish some of the key cultural features of the building," says David Hawthorne, project manager with general contractor Jaynes Corp.
Using a proactive approach to controlling costs by choosing budget-conscious materials and construction systems without sacrificing quality, the team was able to complete this singular library under the $5.5-million budget.
Contractor: Jaynes Corp., Farmington, N.M.
Owner: Diné College, Shiprock, N.M.
Lead Design: DLR Group, Phoenix
Structural Engineer: Souder, Miller & Associates, Albuquerque
Civil Engineer: iina’ba’ Limited Partnership, Farmington, N.M.
MEP: DLR Group, Phoenix
Submitted by DLR Group
Award of Merit, Cultural/Worship: St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church