Project description

Cuningham, a design firm specializing in architecture, interior design, urban design, landscape architecture and urban planning, announced on behalf of its client, the Red Lake Nation, the opening of affordable housing Mino-bimaadiziwin. The 110-unit affordable housing community, the first of its kind, includes an embassy and a Red Lake Nation healthcare clinic and is located in the heart of Minneapolis’ American Cultural Corridor.

Mino-bimaadiziwin, which means “living the good life” in Ojibwe, provides housing for members of the Red Lake Ojibwe Band and other local Native American residents, as well as much-needed services for the tribe’s urban population. This is the first housing project developed by a tribal government in a major city, according to Sam Olbekson, AIA, NCARB, founder and CEO of Full Circle Indigenous Planning + Design, LLC and Cuningham consultant.

“The Red Lake Ojibwe Band has identified a strong need for culturally appropriate supportive housing for members of their community living off the tribe’s reservation in northern Minnesota,” Olbekson says. “In addition to the affordable housing units, the development’s Red Lake Nation Embassy and Health Care Clinic will create a convenient hub for residents to receive the services, resources and care they need.

Funding for the project for the nearly $42 million development came from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and 15 other sources.

“We have seen widespread support for Mino-bimaadiziwin from a range of local stakeholders who strongly believe that this permanent housing solution, along with convenient access to community resources and physical and mental health services, will create a strong foundation upon which residents will thrive,” says Jeff Schoeneck, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal and Executive Director of Live Studio at Cuningham. The project was built on a site that previously served as a temporary navigation center for unsheltered residents in response to an encampment of more than 300 people called the Wall of Forgotten Natives.

The housing estate and community center simultaneously respond to contemporary tribal life while honoring and communicating tradition, which is reflected and facilitated by its design. The Cuningham team worked closely with members of the Red Lake Ojibwe community and other stakeholders to ensure the design was firmly rooted and aligned with enhancing and enhancing the experience of residents and of the overall mission of the project.

“Beyond simple housing and services, Mino-bimaadiziwin serves a deeper purpose of bonding, teaching, and passing on cultural knowledge that is deeply important to tribal cultures,” says Olbekson. “In turn, this will enrich the lives of residents by giving them a sense of belonging and pride. To achieve this, we designed a strategic and modern design with the subtle inclusion of elements revealing history and traditions.

Specific design elements incorporating and celebrating tribal culture include:
• A garden of four raised beds adjoining the clinic, inspired by the traditional shape of an Ojibwa medicinal garden.
• Ceiling and wall treatment throughout the building is made from locally sourced cedar, a sacred tree to the Ojibway.

• Traditional tribal dances and brightly colored and patterned clothing are reflected in wall graphics at key locations throughout the property.
• Light fixtures and woven textured elements in the entrance hall of the apartments reflecting traditional basketwork.
• The Gathering Circle coloring is a graphic representation of the Ojibwe Medicine Wheel.

Different “zones” of ownership represent the seven clans of the Red Lake Nation: Kingfisher (Internal Domestic Communications) is the housing portion of the building; Bald Eagle (Outgoing International Communications) is the embassy office; Mink and Pine Martin (Social, Scouting, Hunting, Gathering) is the community center, kitchen, training, and daycare facilities; Black Bear (Defense and Healing) is the physical health part of the clinic; and Turtle and Bullhead Catfish (Teaching and Healing) is the chemical health and mental health portion of the clinic.
Cuningham has also implemented several regenerative design principles, strategically using local and inherently sustainable materials. The overall commitment to the well-being of residents, visitors, staff and the natural world was also reflected with elements of biophilia.

“Based on his extensive experience on a range of projects in the Minneapolis area and across the country, Cuningham understood the importance of fostering community and encouraging well-being in all aspects of design,” says Schoeneck. Inspired by the community’s desire to connect with nature and Red Lake Nation culture, we were able to create a unique, respectful and revitalizing space.

Mino-bimaadiziwin offers a community playground designed for the exploration and engagement of children of all ages, emphasizing the importance of family and the mission of providing homes for a wide range of people; a gathering space with a wooden pergola and a colored concrete plaza, which provides space for outdoor community events; plus convenient amenities including laundry facilities and an adjoining parking ramp.

The property is located next to a major light rail stop and other public transportation. Part of a 25-year urban development revitalization plan, the community is also located in the heart of the American Indian Cultural Corridor, positioning residents close to art galleries, restaurants, services and attractions. other culturally-oriented housing communities.

The six-story apartment community offers a range of floor plans including studios, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units and is located at 2109 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Jill E. Washington