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Design and Construction for UW Intellectual House Begins

Bolstered by generous support from private donors, regional tribes and investments from the state, the University of Washington anticipates beginning the first phase for the Intellectual House, a longhouse-style facility that will serve Native American students, faculty, and staff on the Seattle campus.

An ambitious fundraising campaign was recently completed, and with the assistance of a UW matching commitment yielded $2.8 million in funding. Among the donors to the Intellectual House are 12 tribal nations, including two who have pledged $100,000 or more (the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe). An additional $3 million in state funding has also been committed. As a result, the first phase of the Intellectual House project anticipates moving ahead, with design beginning this spring and construction of the Community Gathering Building to begin in the summer of 2013.

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

The Community Gathering Building, expected to be part of Phase I, will be a resource for the UW, tribal and surrounding communities. It 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 two of the project is expected to include the final design and construction of a student-focused building.

The extensive four-year planning process for the Intellectual House is the culmination of a nearly 40-year old dream to construct a facility that will pay tribute to the historical presence of the tribes on campus, as well as the vital role they continue to play in the nation and the local community.

The planning process has included the following:

  • Formation of the Intellectual House Planning Advisory Committee, Elders Committee and Working Group
  • Completion of an inclusive feasibility study
  • Selection and blessing of a building site adjacent to the Liberal Arts Quad in the heart of campus
  • Selection of the local architecture firm of Jones & Jones and near completion of the pre-design phase
  • Gifting of a new Lushootseed language name by one of the region’s most esteemed elders, the late Vi Hilbert
  • Ongoing comprehensive fundraising efforts involving alumni, tribes, private foundations and corporations, and community leaders

Thanks to the work of renowned Cherokee-Choctaw architect Johnpaul Jones, the UW Intellectual House will itself be a work of art that distinguishes itself from other campus buildings while honoring Native American culture and traditions.

In addition to being a symbol that honors the region’s tribes, the Intellectual House will be of vital importance to the community of Native American students, faculty and staff at the UW. 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 Intellectual House will be a home away from home for Native American students, a place that will enable them to maintain strong ties to family and culture while successfully achieving their educational goals. It will also be a resource that contributes to an improved cultural understanding and sense of unity for the entire UW community.

For more information, please visit the Intellectual House website.