Diné College Dedicates New Library at Shiprock

May 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-4: Investing in Education, Empowering Tribal Communities, Tribal College News
By Ed McCombs

Amidst speeches, handshakes, laughter, and good food, Diné College (Tsaile, AZ) officials cut a ribbon and opened the doors of the tribal college’s new state-of-the-art 20,000 square foot John Pinto Library in Shiprock, NM on Nov. 18, 2011.

Designed by DLR Group, the dramatic new facility will become a central gathering place for students and the community. “We are pleased to see the plan for this beautiful library come to fruition. The project is the result of the efforts of many people and much planning, dedication, hard work, and sacrifice,” says Maggie George, President of Diné College. “The facility will be the jewel of Shiprock and the surrounding area. This library will serve a critical role supporting self education for all people in this community and the Navajo Nation.”

The $6.5 million library, named after longtime legislator and Navajo Code Talker state Senator John Pinto, was completed with funding from the State of New Mexico, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other revenue streams.

The building’s unique design integrates the form of the traditional Navajo hogan and the holistic representation of the Navajo worldview. As seen in the arched forms and walls, the design expresses the cultural value of a gentle and welcoming spirit. Spaces created between the large, curved forms direct the vision toward sacred points of connection in landmarks and the celestial relationships that define the world of the Diné.

Special points of connection are located throughout the library, and the architects used a variety of techniques, ranging from framed views to incised Native narratives in floor and wall surfaces.

“The essence of the central hogan can be seen from the courtyard at the eastern bridge,” says Karl Derrah, lead designer of DLR Group. “One of the most exciting elements of the project is the Family Hogan. We’ve replicated this form at the center of the library in the Storytelling Room with a dramatic, blue translucent opening rising like a prayer through the roof of the library.” Lights and fiber optics in the ceiling display the big dipper constellation, the northern star, and other constellations important to the storytelling tradition. Construction by Jaynes Corporation began in August 2009.

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