Landscape, Art, and Culture: Inspiring Local Architecture

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The Navajo Nation Division of Transportation Office Complex (NDOT) draws inspiration from natural rock formations in the surrounding landscape as well as from traditional Navajo culture. The complex also integrates work from local artists, strengthening the ties between architecture and community.

Located east of Tse Bonito, New Mexico, NDOT houses five main administrative departments which provide services to the Navajo Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The building form is inspired by sloping rock formations found near Window Rock, Arizona, the angles of which are reflected at the entry and various other points of the building.

Inspiration 5 - Natural Rock Formations

An outdoor courtyard is designed to reflect the patterning of a traditional Navajo woven basket. The interior of the complex features local art, developed as a design feature in collaboration with the client. During the design development, certain walls and locations throughout the building and site were dedicated to artwork that would be incorporated into the architecture and contribute to the concept of the building. A group of local artists painted wall murals that depicted forms of transportation throughout history, specifically on the Navajo Nation. Various sculptures were also included at dedicated wall niches. During the process and upon completion, the artists donated additional time and artwork to be used throughout the building at no additional cost.

Inspiration 6 - Navajo Basket Pattern

Like many of DMA’s projects, NDOT is also a highly efficient sustainable building and has been LEED Gold Certified. Sustainable design features include solar photovoltaic panels which provide 18% of electrical power to the building, a geothermal wellfield for the building mechanical system, an underground cistern for rainwater harvesting, recycled content building materials, carbon dioxide sensors, “smart” building fixtures that detect human space occupancy, and plenty of natural lighting throughout.

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