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First Americans Museum | Submitted by Centennial Builders

Oklahoma City

Region: ENR Texas & Louisiana

Government/Public Building

titleOWNER State of Oklahoma, Office of Management and Enterprise Services



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

ENGINEERS: Parkhill/Cardinal Engineering, Nabih Youssef, Stantec

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Hargreaves Associates

The 125,000-sq-ft First Americans Museum is both a cultural center and museum that pays tribute to the history of Native American tribes and their connection to Oklahoma. Features include a 90-ft-tall rising spiral mound at the heart of the site, gallery spaces, restaurant, theater, classrooms, administration spaces and a 110-ft-tall glass dome-covered event space named Hall of The People. 

FAM was awarded to Centennial Builders in 2005, with construction starting in spring 2006, but the federal government reallocated funding for the project to assist with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, transforming the schedule.

First Americans Museum

Photo courtesy of Hornbeek Blatt

To accommodate it, work had to be completed over more than a dozen phases because the project was intermittently funded by the state. Although the original design documents were not intended for a phased approach, the project team’s flexibility in adopting a phased schedule kept the museum moving steadily toward completion.

The seven-year gap between the end of phase I and the start of the final phase also meant incorporating the latest code and technology updates while construction progressed.

FAM features strict Smithsonian design and construction standards for HVAC, lighting and lighting controls and waterproofing, as the facility has a ten-year loan agreement with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, which returned more than 100 artifacts to their native home.

First Americans Museum

Photo courtesy of Hornbeek Blatt

“The people of the various tribes involved in the project, whether on the Board of Directors or members of tribal communities, showed an incredible amount of determination and resiliency to drive the project to a successful completion,” says Chris Pribil, project director with Manhattan Construction.