RIM Architects | Cook Inlet Tribal Council Non-Profit Center

Cook Inlet Tribal Council Non-Profit Center

Anchorage, AK
Role :
Client :
Cook Inlet Tribal Council
Total SF :
Awards :
2006 Merit Award [Office & Commercial Buildings]; American Institute of Architects, Alaska Chapter

Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and their associated non-profit agencies have joined together to create a facility from which to provide convenient, comprehensive services that benefit the health of the Anchorage and Alaska Native Community. The project was built on Athabascan land. It was determined that it should be respectful of that culture while reflecting the values of the non-profits providing the services. This criteria calls for a culturally sensitive and humble facility that is welcoming and inviting to all visitors.

RIM incorporated the birch tree as a central design element in this facility, representing the health and natural connectivity of the Native culture to its surroundings.

For many centuries, the birch tree and its bark made important contributions to Athabascan life. When the Alaska Natives first arrived in what now is Anchorage, they found forests of birch trees, marshes filled with nesting birds and clear streams alive with salmon and trout. It was in this environment that they thrived.

The architecture of this facility reflects a context of birch skin and birch forest. The buildings exterior becomes an abstract interpretation of the birch tree in its use of materials and placement of windows. The building’s exterior skin is primarily dark tile and irregularly spaced fenestration. This composition emulates the random pattering of the skin of a birch. Entry points to the building are inset and transparent, with accentuated randomly spaced vertical mullions thus mimicking the trunks of birches in a forest. This aesthetic is further reinforced in literal birch forest growths at each of the entrances around the building.