A youth and community center designed to provide a centralized gathering place for the Nation’s youth, elders, and families year-round.

With the charge to tread lightly on the earth, the community center has been designed to use very little energy with an efficient envelope, high efficiency ground-source heating and cooling, solar orientation that improves daylight and avoids heat gain, and environmentally friendly materials that either sequester carbon or otherwise have a small environmental footprint. The design is inspired by the Onondaga hills, centered on the main entrance in the form of a Water Drum that doubles as a multi-level storytelling space. A series of community vision meetings were held, to bring the community to a purpose statement that lead the design team’s future moves.



This fitness and education-oriented facility has been designed to be flexible and allow a number of simultaneous uses.

A large gym for basketball and volleyball is the focal point of the project, with spectator space for tournaments and a daylighting design that allows tournament-play without the need for electric lighting in the daytime. Careful acoustic models were also done to ensure that there was no disruptive reverberation in the gym, and an elevated track above allows for community members to have an indoor exercise space in winter. Cardio and weight equipment is also included for community use.




Non athletic program includes food service, a lounge, a class and craft room, study rooms, and a separate table games space to give kids a gaming option that isn’t electronic.

The study space has been designed in such a way that it functions as a private respite for the community’s youth, giving them their own safe place to get together while being under the supervision of the Nation’s staff. The kitchen area is not only designed to hold concessions for events, but also to give a place for the youth to learn to cook traditional food from their elders.



Location: Onondaga Nation, Ny
Photos: John Griebsch Photography