First Americans Museum

Oklahoma City

PROJECT OF THE YEAR FINALIST and BEST PROJECT

OWNER: State of Oklahoma, Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES)

LEAD DESIGN FIRM: Johnson Fain Hornbeek Blatt

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Centennial Builders, a Joint Venture of Manhattan Construction Co. and Flintco LLC

CIVIL ENGINEER: Parkhill/Cardinal Engineering

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Nabih Youssef

MEP ENGINEER: Stantec

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Hargreaves Associates

ARCHITECTURAL (CO-PRIME): Hornbeek Blatt Architects

SUBCONTRACTORS: A Home Elevator Inc.; Alpha Insulation & Waterproofing Inc.; Amundsen Commercial Kitchens Inc.; Best Companies Inc.; Bryan’s Flooring LLC; Cantera Concrete Co. LLC; Complete Landsculpture; Connelly Paving Co.; Czarniecki Construction Inc.; Dallas Door & Supply Co.; Downey Contracting LLC; Elevated Paver Systems LLC; Fixtures & Drywall Co. of Oklahoma Inc. dba Fadco Inc.; Great Plains Construction LLC; Janson Industries; Johnson Equipment Co.; Martin Brothers Painting Inc.; Midwest Wrecking Co. LLC; Novum Structures LLC; O.A. Cheeks LLC; Oklahoma Vista Fire Sprinklers Inc.; Saker Mechanical Inc.; Shawnee Fabricators Inc.; Shawver & Son Inc.; Southwest Drywall; Stantec; SW Drywall LLC; Tietsort; TK Elevator Corp.; Universal Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc.


After construction of the $124-million First Americans Museum was put on hold because of a funding reallocation, the project team developed a strategy for constructing the museum in phases to see the project to completion.

The initial construction contract was awarded to Centennial Builders in 2005 as an initiative of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority the state of Oklahoma created in 1994 to build a cultural center and museum. Construction began in spring 2006, but after the federal government reallocated some of the project’s funding toward emergency efforts for Hurricane Katrina, the original construction schedule was no longer feasible.

First Americans Museum

Photo by Chris Pribil

The state ultimately supplied intermittent funding, resulting in more than a dozen construction phases over the next 15 years. With a seven-year gap between the end of the first phase and the start of the final phase, the project team had to modify designs to accommodate new code requirements and tech updates. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team collaborated through virtual design reviews and site walks. 

First Americans Museum

Photo by Dominique Harris, Manhattan Construction

The team completed the 125,000-sq-ft museum in April 2021. It features a 90-ft-tall earth mound, gallery spaces, museum store, restaurant, theater, meeting and administration spaces, classrooms, courtyards and a 110-ft-tall glass dome named Hall of the People, which will accommodate up to 300 guests for receptions, banquets, dinners and performances. The design and location of the structure includes attractive alignments for the summer and winter solstices, which create a relational tie between the natural and built environment.

First Americans Museum

Photo courtesy of Hornbeek Blatt