Payne Family Native American Center

Unique Native American Studies Facility

The Payne Family Native American Center is the first of its kind in the United States, built expressly to house a Native American Studies Department, American Indian Student Services offices, and related campus programming.

Its environmentally conscious design reflects Native American philosophy and respect for and harmony with nature.

The building occupies the site of a historic Salish Indian encampment. It was designed with input from Montana tribes, and incorporates details inspired by traditional Native American structures, such as an east-facing entrance and circular gathering spaces.

It was granted the last significant piece of land on the campus oval, underscoring the University's commitment to the study of Native American culture and heritage.

The heart of this unique building is a 12-sided rotunda, each side representing one of 12 Native American tribes in Montana.

Large windows in the west side of the structure take advantage of passive solar heat to reduce energy use in the winter, and allow for a large amount of natural light, which is a theme throughout the center. 94% of spaces in the building have natural light.

Recycled materials are a key focus, including the large timbers supporting the rotunda, which were reclaimed from the Blackfoot River's Milltown Dam Superfund project.

While its glass walls couldn't be constructed with SIPs, the Native American Center rotunda roof consists of 12 pie-slice-shaped, 12-1/4" R-Control SIPs.

The remainder of the center is built of structural steel wrapped with a 6-1/2" SIP skin and finished with red concrete block.

The use of large panels, some as big as 8' by 16', expedited completion of the center's walls and enabled greater focus on the details that make the building an exceptional space.

The south end of the center is a rounded alcove that houses a large classroom. Curved SIPs were fabricated to a precise fit.

Approximating this effect using conventional methods requires experienced framers and hundreds of cuts. In the end, fill and finish create the actual curve, not the frame itself.

In this case, the curved SIPs were ready for the application of the block finish, with no additional preparation.

Using computer modeling, the building was designed to consume 43% less energy than a similarly sized conventional building. In addition to SIPs, techniques and materials used to reduce energy consumption included radiant heating, use of campus steam, insulated glass, energy efficient lighting, a variable air volume system and ground water cooling.

Actual energy savings, after one year of occupancy, were 55%.

The Payne Native American Center has achieved LEED® Platinum, the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council®.