Architecture

Ron Goodfellow, Calgary Alberta Canada
The entire building design should be viewed as a reinterpretation of a vast range of Blackfoot culture, its sacred icons, and the everyday life of the Siksika people.

With every design decision, whether on a site planning level, the building, or with an interior design detail, the building is intended to be a literal metaphor of traditional Blackfoot iconography:

Ron Goodfellow, Architect for Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park

Design Metaphors & Concepts

  • Building Entrance – Upon entering the building, the two stone walls represent the “Chiefs' Walk”, named by the late Chief Leo Youngman.The opposite wall is the “Winter Count Wall named by Allan Wolf Leg.
  • The Eagle Feather Fan – is at the front of the entrance as you walk in. It represents the sacredness of the eagle in the Siksika religion and ceremonies.
  • Teepee Sky Light – is the central teepee that decorates the roof. A major sculpture or exhibit will be placed here in the near future.
  • The Buffalo Jump – the visitor may sense the kind of feeling that the buffalo felt as they approached the escarpment of a buffalo jump. What lies before is the dramatic drop-off of a buffalo jump.
  • Yellow Ochre Teepees –the finish is tooled to reflect the appearance of scraped buffalo hide.
  • Teepee in the Elders Lodge – reflects the “Horse Days”, about 22 ft in diameter.
  • Teepees in the Skylights – are much smaller and represent the “Dog Days”
  • Teepees in the lower Gallery – represent today’s Nation
  • Marquee Panel near Theatre – is also painted with red finish to look like Red Ochre
  • Wood Inlay Motif Doors – you can clearly see the Eagle Feather Design
  • Vision Quest Theatre – the visitor will become aware of a vast starlit night sky. The people of Siksika had their own stories and mythologies of the moon and stars. The night sky is the exact replica of the winter sky you would see in January or early February. The entire major constellations are there and would be brought to life by modern storytellers.
  • Wall Scones – recall the war or medicine shields and drums used for singers at pow- wows.
  • Library and Archives – will be where records of Elders' Oral History, History, and Genealogy will be stored as well as a place to do research.
  • Light Pattern over Library Desk – reflects a view of a teepee or medicine wheel.
  • Multi-Colored Wall in the Library – reflects the dresses worn by Jingle Dress Dancers.
  • Stair Cases – designed to frame the view of the valley and the 20,000 sq. space of the lower gallery.
  • Glass on Railings –is supported by bow shaped baluster, an obvious reference to the bows used to hunt buffalo and other game.
  • Gallery – With it's 20 foot high ceiling, the four gigantic teepee pole structures are the primary supports for the main floor and roof of the building. Poles are 50 feet high and pounded 60 feet into the ground with concrete piles.

Interior Finishing Details

Throughout the building, the design employs Prairie colors.

  • horse blanket carpet design in the conference room
  • pink and pale greens relate to the prairie rose and pale summer grasses
  • browns in the gift shop relate to colors of the native soil
  • floor patterns in the cafeteria are based on Blackfoot legging designs;
    tile patterns on the Sundance gallery floor are an interpretation of the Sun’s life giving force
  • wood paneling at the main entry and Sundance gallery is patterned on sedimentary layers as seen along the river banks
  • public washrooms use ochre tile along with off white tiles and grays on the floor as well as large circular mirrors which are a reference to the teepee and the circle of life on the mirrors
  • Drive Lane Entry – has a series of large buffalo rocks and stone piles. The stone piles were nicknamed “the women”, because the women of the tribe often hid behind them, ready to jump out and wave their robes in order to stampede herds of buffalo over the buffalo jump.
  • The Seven Sacred Society Teepees – are situated on the roof and create an inspiring symbol of an ancient encampment; this view is even more spectacular at night when the teepees and Sundance Lodge are lit up, glowing like lanterns created by ancient cooking fires.
  • Sundance Arbor Poles – represent the cottonwood poles used to create the original Sundance structures. These huge metal poles were custom fabricated here in Alberta. The technology to manufacture these poles was not available until recently and represents a significant element in the authenticity of the structure ( it didn't seem right to use tubular poles). The latest in computer technology was used in the erection process to set up the pipes. The steel structure went up rapidly and flawlessly.
  • Bow String Trusses – are set in a semi circle on concrete columns with high tech concrete piles that were pounded twenty meters into the hillside. In return, they provide lateral support for the west facing curtain wall glass that looks out into the valley.
  • Travois Poles – are interlaced in a semi circle to create the Motokiks, or Buffalo Women’s Society Lodges.
  • Amphitheatre Outside – is done in a sunburst design simular to the upper main floor Sundance gallery. Dance demonstrations will be shown here.
  • Light Poles around Amphitheatre – are shaped like coup sticks once used by warriors who rode into battle without weapons to demonstrate their bravery.

 

 

 

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