IAIA Campus Features Energy-efficient Dorm

Jul 12th, 2011 | By | Category: 20-1: Native Voices, Modern Media, Tribal College News
By David Collins

Santa Fe’s high housing costs and limited on-campus housing have been among the college’s greatest barriers in recruiting students at the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA), according to IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee).

The new dormitory that opened in January has more than 35,000 square feet and 77 dorm rooms for 154 students. Multicolored exterior walls express the pueblo-revival style of the area. More subtle comments on pueblo traditions are found in the floor plan of the new dorms. “The entrance was associated with the northeast to focus on the Jemez Mountains, which are sacred to many Native people,” Martin says. Inside, hallways are aligned along north-south and east-west axes, which reflect the four cardinal directions common to many American Indian traditions. At the intersection of hallways are shared lounge and study areas.

As the college looks forward to its 50th anniversary in 2012, planners are taking a new look at the college’s mission and how to accomplish it. The new dorms are part of that effort. The $7.9-million dorm project is Phase I of an emerging Lifelong Learning Center intended to more firmly root IAIA in the lives of tribal communities. With private bathrooms and hotel-style accommodations, the dorm can provide housing for other groups when students are away, Martin says.

Currently in the design phase, a conference center is slated to be finished adjacent to the new dorms some time in 2009. That design, Martin says, will feature curvilinear forms similar to those that define existing buildings at the campus center. At the entrance of the new conference center, a tipi structure will memorialize life on the Plains in earlier times.

The planned $5 million conference center will help IAIA accomplish its mission to area tribes and pueblos, Martin says. In addition to training young people for careers in the arts, the institute, through its planned conference center, hopes to promote tribal sovereignty and economic development in tribal communities.

Targeted to meet stringent environmental standards in both construction and building operations, the conference center is expected to have a LEED-Gold certification, which would place the college among the front ranks of institutions that reduce the environmental impact of their buildings. The dorms were built to meet a LEED-Silver standard, but dorm plans did not include formal certification, Martin says. Next on the list of building plans is a science and technology building.

A new 4-year degree program in Indigenous Liberal Studies reflects IAIA’s ambitions to move beyond narrowly focused arts training. The science and technology building will anchor plans to expand the curriculum beyond the core focus on arts.

“Expansion of our science and technology program will enhance our mission to advance Native arts and cultures,” Martin says. Science education can still be arts-oriented, he says. Physics and math come into play in arts production. Success in the arts industry often requires business acumen, so the institute is also training students in business and leadership skills needed for work as museum curators and managers.

Reprinted with permission from the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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