Ward + Blake Architects Design for $45 Million Fort Washakie Wyoming School Project Includes Dedicated Space for Native American Cultural Practice

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Jackson Hole firm Ward + Blake Architects in association with veteran school design specialists Fanning/Howey Associates have submitted a preliminary design for the pre-K through 12th-grade campus to be built in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. The town of Fort Washakie is named for a Shoshone chief who championed education and the new school design includes dedicated space for cultural activities.

Preliminary schematic for Ward + Blake Architects $45 million Ft. Washakie school campus includes dedicated space for Native American cultural activities. (© Ward + Blake Architects)

In addition to dedicated cultural space, the design includes outdoor classroom space to create an environment for non-traditional learning opportunities.

Approximately 4,000 square feet of Ward + Blake Architects’ design for a K-8 and high school campus to be built in Fort Washakie, Wyo., is dedicated space for cultural activities such as traditional language and dance practice for the predominantly Native American school population. Jackson Hole architects Ward + Blake – whose institutional architectural projects include a LEED Gold-certified children’s learning center in Jackson, Wyoming – are lead architects for the new $45 million Fort Washakie campus, partnering with veteran national school designers Fanning/Howey Associates.

The Ward + Blake and Fanning/Howey team recently submitted preliminary design schematics for the proposed 180,000-square-foot elementary and high school complex, which will provide classroom, recreational, and extracurricular space for approximately 800 students in two buildings. In addition to dedicated cultural space, the design includes outdoor classroom space to create an environment for non-traditional learning opportunities. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

“We have submitted schematic designs that we believe meet the school board’s desires and objectives for this ambitious project,” says Ward + Blake Principal Mitch Blake. “Now we will wait for the state’s approval and hopefully move forward with design drawings.” An earlier three-day charette brought the design team together with stakeholders to help determine goals and needs for the project.

Fort Washakie is located at the confluence of the South and North Forks of the Little Wind River and is named for Shoshone Chief Washakie, namesake for the historic military Fort Washakie. Chief Washakie was known as a great supporter of education, and his policies figured into the first school at Fort Washakie being established as part of the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 with a first class of 35 students, both Native American and white.

“We want to bring meaning to the project by recognizing the cultural context of the Eastern Shoshone traditions,” said Blake in an earlier interview about the firm’s plans for the school design. The team intends to integrate cultural symbols that imbue meaning to the school’s users into the design of the new school building.

Ward + Blake has designed several notable buildings for education, including the Teton County Children’s Learning Center in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the St. Johns Medical Center Children’s Learning Center, which is still in the planning stages. The Teton County Children’s Learning Center “The Ranch”, built in conjunction with early education architecture specialists D.W. Arthur Associates, was short-listed in the schools category of the 2012 World Architectural Festival in Singapore. A recently opened Teton County School District Central Administration Office designed by the firm received special Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project funding.

Ward + Blake has a successful history of creating architecture that’s sensitive to a site’s environmental, cultural and historical cues, winning the firm numerous awards and honors including being named 2013 Firm of the Year by the six-state AIA Western Mountain Region. A recent monograph, In the Shadows of the Tetons: Selected Works of Ward + Blake Architects, provides an overview of the firm’s award-winning work.

About Ward + Blake Architects:
Ward + Blake Architects was built on a distinctive vision: to be provocative in thought, flexible in nature and disciplined in execution. Since 1996, the firm has earned recognition for architecture that is sensitive to its environment and successfully integrated with its surroundings. Ward + Blake creates buildings that are tactile, modern, bio-climatically responsible, honestly expressed, technologically sound and artfully crafted. For additional information, visit Ward + Blake online at http://www.wardblakearchitects.com or call 307.733.6867.

Darla Worden, WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations, darla(at)wordenpr(dot)com, 307.734.5335

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