Kenaitze Educational Campus

  • area / size 67,259 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • Location Kenai, Alaska, , United States
  • Stantec designed the Kenaitze Educational Campus with a balance of history, tradition, and dynamic needs in Kenai, Alaska.

    Weaving cultural and historical elements into the design, the Kenaitze Educational Campus combines core educational components and programs into one state-of-the-art, central facility. The 67,000-square-foot center focuses on the Tribal Council’s commitment to building a tribally owned, culturally appropriate education campus.

    This durable and easy-to-maintain facility includes two wings. First is the educational wing with spaces to accommodate the Tribe’s Early Learning preschool, K-12 Yaghanen Youth Language and Culture Program, Community Education and Career Training, and the Dena’ina Language institute.

    Supporting the school and community activities is the second wing of the center. It features a multipurpose room with second floor running track. The space can house up to 300 people in banquet style seating, host tribal events, meetings, athletics, or other large events. There is also a cultural room for tribal demonstrations. Both wings of the facility are connected at the center by a central indoor plaza.

    Every element in the design of the new educational facility connects to the traditions of the Dena’ina Tribe and embraces the local, cultural, and tribal values with each detail. These designs go beyond the classroom and provide teaching opportunities.

    Part of the design utilizes reclaimed wood that was repurposed from the community’s historic cannery, which emphasizes the Tribe’s longstanding fishing traditions.

    A 16-foot diameter tribal seal is embedded into the lobby floor of the facility, while a 20-foot diameter rendering of the Tribe’s Traditional Values Wheel is embedded into the multipurpose room floor.

    The building’s exterior features custom copper-colored aluminum panels that simulate salmon skin, a resource to the Tribe’s identity. The curved design of the panel signifies the circular sense of community.

    Outside of the building, the landscaping and playground areas are all designed to teach children about the natural environment.

    To create a warm environment indoors, the design uses a natural palette throughout the light-filled space. Particular attention was paid to selecting a balanced combination of accents and neutral finishes and textures, since strong colors can result in overstimulation.

    Design: Stantec
    Contractor: Blazy Construction
    Photography: Wayde Carroll