The use of wood in buildings, and as part of daily life, is an integral part of the heritage and culture of the Kwakiutl First Nation. The Kwakiutl people consider the cedar to be the tree of life, so it was only fitting that their new school would feature cedar from local forests in every aspect of the building’s design. Special effort was made to highlight the use of wood as a prominent structural element as well as for interior and exterior finishes. The architects conducted multiple design planning meetings with the Kwakiutl community, which helped develop the form and plan of the school, helping guide their use of wood.
Large, round timbers are featured in the entrance foyer, while the Multi-Purpose Room consists of four western red cedar posts supporting four cedar beams. The roof structure above was framed by Douglas fir glulam purlins and I-joists. Interior walls were clad with cedar planks installed vertically, reminiscent of the traditional cladding used in Big Houses. The ceiling and surrounding corridors were finished with custom acoustic panels featuring high grade, kilndried spruce-pine-fir turned on edge to manage sound.
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