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...Of earth

...Of sky

As we descend downward, the horizon line slowly rises above us giving us a sense of enclosure…

…or the understanding that we are within "mother earth",

Once we understand our position in the great plaza, the focus becomes vertical…

…frame of the universe is above us, "father sky"

Proposed Legislative Branch Office & Multipurpose Building for the Navajo Nation
Exhibition of Student Work          The School of Architecture         The University of Arizona

Window Rock - the area, the feature, the site...

Window Rock is pronounced (Navajo translation) or simply hole in the rock.  The Window Rock is unique feature cut into the sandstone wall by the elements.  Its reverence to the Navajo people is highly endowed.  It is a threshold.  It acts as a door to dinetah (homeland).  The people say a spring was at its basin, a sacred element.  Wind and Fire made the feature…and the land, our mother, seeded life.


A new facility that will house the Legislative Branch's growing functions in addition to proper siting of this facility.  This new facility will embody Navajo culture or concepts in its entirety.  It will instill the humble beginning of a new building culture or `Navajo Architecture'.   In keeping with a theme of `traditions rekindled', this modern character should preserve the precedence but not repeat it.  It should set up a physical language for other facilities within the governmental node.

Master plan site study - the current site plan seems disarrayed.  Today, as mentioned previously, other structures have haphazardly risen up to accommodate a growing Nation's government. A conceptual study will enable comprehensive solutions to a site scheme that has evolved over a period of seventy plus years.  The original buildings are somewhat benevolent to an acceptable plan. A clearly, distinct visual relationship exist and is at the discretion of the original planners but today the visual axis is clearly interrupted at the expense of byways and government functions.  Reinforcing this visual (from a government organization to a physical feature) relationship, in addition to new links, may tie our rekindled concept as Dine' to the natural world.  

Architectural Presentation (preliminary review - 4/2/01)

East Elevation

South Elevation

These are quick sketch models that were prepared for my preliminary review on April 2, 2001.  This presentation begins to show the building's massing and integration into the site.

May 2, 2001 Capstone Presentation School of Architecture University of Arizona

Entry to the Building

East Procession to the building.  The round retaining walls are abstractions of the rocks.

This a a soaring skylight that acknowledges the west cardinal direction.  conceptually...very

The above images are taken from a SECTION MODEL that i produced in four days.

Senior Capstone - Concept Narrative                        
Legislative Branch Office and Multipurpose Facility 2001 Ó Richard K. Begay Jr.
The University of Arizona, School of Architecture

Site Design - Exterior Spaces
Navajo Culture experience:  Introduce culture into experience will be a strong concept for design.  

The Emergence concept

The Emergence myth, which is described as a journey through four worlds will be experienced as a person walks this path.   This type of interaction with nature is a very positive aspect in Navajo Culture.  The first world is a characterized as the underworld or darkness, a world in which the insect people lived peacefully.  However quarreling brought the inhabitants into the next world through an opening in the eastern sky.  This second world is the blue world and lived the swallow people.  Opposition between these two inhabitants led to their departure into another world.  The Third world was accessed through a small opening from the south.  The color associated with the third world is Yellow.   Here lived the Grasshopper people along with the inhabitants from the previous world.  The collection of distinct inhabitants led to opposition and bitterness again, signaling the exiting or emerging into a fourth world through a western opening, also known as the `glittering world'.  It is described as our current place in time for the Dine people.  The Holy ones have guided us here.  We dwell within the four sacred mountains along with air, sky, sun, and water. (Navajo - A Century of Progress 1868-1968, Link)

The four worlds are experienced through transitional sequence of spaces or changes.  The sequence is conveyed along the east-west axis.  It `begins' in the east and `ends' westerly signifying a passage of time - (the sun rises and sets along this axis- the concept of time is therefore shown physically.  On the model, there are four round circles that symbolize these worlds.   As you proceed to the building (in a westerly direction), you progress through these `spiritual or mythological spaces'.  The first two circles function as seating areas.  The third circle `opens' up to the building's periphery.  The integration of materials will supplement this notion.  Black, Blue and Yellow rings are inscribed into the concrete walkway with openings or breaks in the pattern to signify the emerging from one circle to the next.   From the third circle, a person will descend down a concrete ramp to a plaza circle.  In this larger circle, the color white will be represented in small details.  The negative form of a Hogan will depict the `fourth world'.    Myth logically, the earth people or Dine emerged into this fourth world through a Hogan.

    Dyron Murphy, Architect    Dyron Murphy Architects  

The Hogan is very instrumental in educating ourselves with Navajo Culture and determining our place in this world.  Self-identity.

The number four is very important to Navajos, not just the #4, but things associated with four parts such as:

The four worlds
Four Primary Clans Created
Four directions,
Four mountains, (There are six but four are the primary ones)
Four stones: Abalone, White Shell, Turquoise, and Jet
Four colors: Yellow, White, Turquoise, And Black
Ceremonial duration

Mother Earth - Father Sky Procession   (Sloped walkway down to large gathering space or plaza) the initial idea was to create water drops at the periphery (the third circle) so that the building will conceptually “grow out” of the site (the ripple affect).  .  To anchor this concept further, another element is conceptually exhibited - fire.  The fire pit is located at the center of a Hogan.  An idea was to create a sundial that will have markings, inlays, and stained, or textured concrete on the horizontal surface (the concrete slab).   A vertical object will cast a shadow at 10:00 am on each of the four Council Session's first day.  (Note:  The Navajo Nation Council meets four times a year.  Each meeting last a week and usually begins at 10:00 am each day.

           (Antoine Predock, Architect)

This may not be a final solution but it reinforces the idea of using the element.  The emphases in this space will be verticality.  Father sky is above us.  The twins' father, the sun, is above us.

Having water flow under the third circle will allow positive drainage from the sandstone rock outcropping.

...Of earth

...Of sky

As we descend downward, the horizon line slowly rises above us giving us a sense of enclosure…

…or the understanding that we are within "mother earth",

Once we understand our position in the great plaza, the focus becomes vertical…

…the frame of the universe is above us, "our father the sky"

Navajo Universe

Where mother earth and father sky meet is in a traditional Hogan.  The dome represents father sky and the earth floor represents mother.  In the plaza space, the Hogan is present with the frame being the earth, trees, site, rocks, buildings, and the roof is the sky.  It is negative.  It may be more powerful to conceive this type of perception than to show the form of a Hogan.  

Clearly, a visual demarcation of family values (Hogan) and workspace is demonstrated.

The Cardinal Directions are shown but not elaborated.  I mean all four directions are physically shown but I was not able to strongly define values along with my program so I decided to leave them as open spaces.  The western direction is strongly emphasized with a soaring skylight.
East is entry and also a link between the building and a Large Cultural Park, Speakers Platform (Edward Preston, Architect Navajo Nation Design & Engineering Services) and an amphitheatre.  
South opens up to the historic Council Chamber
North opens up to Nature

The entire site is tied together with the concrete walkways.  Links between buildings are much more stronger.  With this a better sense of place is establish.  A Cultural Plaza is strongly defined with the closure of streets to vehicular traffic at the frontage of the Navajo Nation Council Chambers.

(David Sloan,  David Sloan and Associates ,  R. Larry Medlin, Architect, and Professor)

Project History and Acknowledgements

My Capstone or Senior Thesis is going very well so far.  It is a project that not only expanding to a greater extent but has begun to teach me about my own culture and how to visually determine a genuine physical language.   My ultimate goal is to become a registered architect, how i get there is another journey filled with many levels of education.

When I think of this capstone project I think of so many people that,in a way, help me sum up my character as the person i am.  I would like to acknowledge them and  to share my sincerest appreciation

For Mary Totsoni

First Mom and Dad for always being there for me.  Thank you so much for teaching me so much.  My two sisters for words of encouragement that remain with me.

My beloved wife Carmen,  You are the one who has taught the nature of love and understanding.  Together we have  three beautiful girls and one handsome boy.  My will and power comes from all of you.  I love you !

My Grandmother, Mary Totsoni in Cottonwood who's strength and courage  inspires me.  Your dedication to the simplest of life has driven me to beautify this world.  

Marie Chee, Aunt Ree, I cannot thank you enough.  you have done so much for my family.  The kids talk about you every week

Francis Totsoni, Auntie thank you for the talks.  It lets me know that I can reach a higher level

Colleages, Friends, and Collaborators,

Robert J. Ghan,  PE  For your sincere friendship and the opportunity to work for you
Ed Preson, Architect  Thank you for all that you have done for me.
Fred Marianitto, Director  Thanks for the opportunity to work  I finally got to work to DES under you (after trying four times)
David Sloan, ARchitect I admire you much.  Thank you for your criticism and words
DAvid Riley, Designer;  Your words are very inspiring
Regina Harris, Thank you for the opportunity to letting me talk to Antoine
Antoine Predock, Your words of delight captivates me to creating something special
Ed T Begay, Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council
Legislative Branch Staff
Mary Hardin My Chair for this capstone
Larry Medlin, My Studio Crit
Corky Poster
Richard Williams, Guest Studio Crit
Alvaro Malo
Richard Eribes, Dean CAPLA
Harrison Martin, Thank you letting me use your quote and for the "talks"
Calandra Cook, Thank you for your friendship and words of encouragement
Dyron Murphy, I haven't met this guy but i feel he expresses sincere input
Rebecca Rothfuss, You dedication to education continues to lift me
Brian Begay
Amy Gerdes
Richardson Begay
Cody Bowens
Karen Leuppe, Thank you for letting me use your quote.  It is a genuine  concept.
Larry Juan
Larry Eagleman
Donald Begody
Eunice Cahn
Navajo Land Department
Wava Begaye
Karen F. Begay
Bruce Meyers

2001 Copyright Senior Capstone Richard K. Begay Jr.