Located on the Fitzsimmons campus of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building contains a variety of outpatient and long-distance medical consultation services. Its design expresses a unique identity on a campus dominated by strict architectural controls, which was an important requirement for the varied Native American nations it serves.
The building’s curved form tilts towards the campus’s main drive. At its fulcrum is the entry, on axis with the winter solstice—reinforcing the American Indian tradition of solar orientation. The architect employed circular volumes elsewhere in the building to enclose a central rotunda, auditorium, and an outdoor “council ring.” Each of these volumes is divided into seven sections that symbolize love, honor, courage, respect, honesty, reciprocity, and family. The seven divisions are further divided four times, which yields the 28 divisions that symbolize the medicine wheel.
The building’s surroundings and exterior architectural language reflects several different Native American nations. The outdoor council ring acts as a welcoming space for visitors. An exposed patch of earth at its core contains soil from the four cardinal points in the United States: Nome, Alaska; the Miccosukee Reservation, in Florida; the Passamaquoddy area in Maine; and the Feather Ring, in California. The building’s façade, with its eight corner windows, reflects architectural traditions of the Plains, Pueblo, and Alaskan nations. A central skylight, which caps an interior rotunda, reflects the aesthetic of the Blackfoot nation. The rotunda is 53 feet high and defined by seven poles, which recalls the seven poles of a teepee.
Design team leader:
Electrical Engineer and Lighting: