Adjacent to Lost Lake Park in Whistler’s upper village, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre combines technology with tradition in a contemporary interpretation of traditional longhouse and pit house forms used by the Squamish and Lil’wat Peoples.
The post-and-beam glue-laminated timber design supports three storeys across a radial plan, the structure itself cutting into the hillside on the north edge of the steeply sloping site, giving it a dramatic, ceremonious stance.
On the exterior, local basalt ledgestone forms a plinth beneath a window wall along the north side, while prefabricated, western red cedar cladding completes the other elevations. The main entrance, with its intricately carved western red cedar doors, leads visitors directly into a light-filled Great Hall. This impressive double-height space features dugout canoes and a massive western red cedar spindle whorl suspended from the ceiling beams. This main exhibition level also contains a theatre and gallery space. A mezzanine provides a second gallery, workshops, and access to a replica longhouse and an istken (a traditional Lil’wat pit house), located on the south side of the site. Stairs down from the Great Hall lead to the gift shop, cafeteria, and curatorial and administrative spaces. Members of Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations co-designed and constructed the cultural centre and, following its completion, established an Indigenous trades school.