Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation TRIBAL LIBRARY
7,211 square feet
The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation (NWBSN) Tribal Library is more than a standalone library. It’s a library to help people of one culture foster a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. It is a firsthand look at the experiences, objects, and creations honoring the NWBSN tribe’s heritage and ways of life.
The NWBSN traveled largely on foot living off the land in a delicate balance in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. The NWBSN traveled with the changing season. They looked upon the earth not just as a place to live; in fact, they called the earth their mother - she was the provider of all they needed for their livelihood. The mountains, streams, and plains stood forever, they said, and the seasons walked around annually.
The consistent allusion to nature was vital in the design, as the NWBSN culture strongly values the relationship between humans and the environment. To communicate this connection, SAA worked together with tribe members to design a space that would reflect through material and shape the cultural traditions. For example, the library’s central gathering space is based on the design of a circular Sun Dance structure, a ceremony usually involving a community gathering to pray for healing. The flooring is colored to mimic the natural surroundings, based on water, rock, earth, and green flowering meadows, of the Bear River Valley where the NWBSN seasonally migrated.
The result is a building that pays homage to the NWBSN Tribe, and welcomes all to visit, learn, and appreciate the stories of the NWBSN Tribe.
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Sanders Associates Architects
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