February 15, 2012

Design begins this spring for longhouse-style Intellectual House

News and Information

Design should begin this spring, with construction scheduled to start in the summer of 2013, for the Intellectual House, a longhouse-style facility on the University of Washington campus that will be a resource for the university, tribal and surrounding communities.

The Community Gathering Building on the right will serve as an event site and meeting place. Phase II of the project will include of a student-focused building, depicted here on the left.

Stephanie Bower

The Community Gathering Building on the right will serve as an event site and meeting place. Phase II of the project will include of a student-focused building, depicted here on the left.

A recently completed campaign, including a UW matching commitment, yielded $2.8 million in funding. Among donors to Intellectual House are 12 tribal nations, with two of them – the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe – pledging $100,000 or more. An additional $3 million in state funding has also been committed.

“Were thrilled to begin the first phase of the Intellectual House project,” said Sheila Edwards Lange, UW vice president for minority affairs and vice president for diversity. “Thanks to financial support from the state, private donors and the tribes, we will make the 40-year dream of building a longhouse-style facility on the UW campus a reality.”

The facility will pay tribute to the historical presence of the tribes on campus, as well as the vital role they play in the nation and the local community, she said.

The Community Gathering Building, expected to be part of Phase I, will serve as an event site and meeting place to bring people from diverse cultures and backgrounds together, as well as showcase and honor the coastal-longhouse style design. Phase II of the project is expected to include final design and construction of a student-focused building. The buildings will be on a site between Lewis and McMahon halls.

Translates to 'Intellectual House' in the Lushootseed language and is phonetically pronounced 'wah-sheb-altuh.'  This particular name was given by the late Vi Hilbert, a Lushootseed linguist and elder in the Upper Skagit Tribe.

Translates to "Intellectual House" in the Lushootseed language and is phonetically pronounced "wah-sheb-altuh." This particular name was given by the late Vi Hilbert, a Lushootseed linguist and elder in the Upper Skagit Tribe.

Thanks to the work of renowned Cherokee-Choctaw architect Johnpaul Jones, the Intellectual House will be a work of art that distinguishes itself from other campus buildings while honoring Native American culture and traditions, Edwards Lange said. The Seattle architecture firm of Jones & Jones is now completing the pre-design.

In addition to being a symbol that honors the regions tribes, the Intellectual House will be important to the community of Native American students, faculty and staff at the UW, Edwards Lange said. “It will reassure families preparing to send their children to college that the UW acknowledges and respects the needs of Native American students and is committed to helping them succeed. “

The four-year planning process has been guided by a planning advisory committee, an elders committee and a working group.