Syracuse, NY – On March 21, 2016, the first day of spring brought an honor to the Onondaga Nation. The Syracuse Section of Society of Civil Engineers named the Nation’s Tsha Thoñ’nhes as the recipient of the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement of 2016.
“We are very honored that the Society of Civil Engineers recognized us for Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes,” said Onondaga council member Brad Powless. “It was just a very short while ago that we are all sitting in my classroom, brainstorming goals for this project. Now we have this beautiful building.”
The Nation’s vision for this project began a few years ago with the removal of the fire house and a construction of Tsha Thoñswatha’ (the new firehouse) across the street. This would create an area dedicated a healthy lifestyle choices through athletics.
“We had a great team who really worked well together,” stated Vernon Abrams, the Nation’s construction adviser for the project. “Everyone from the architect the general contractor, and the wooden laminate beam manufacturer listened to the vision of the Nation. With that clear vision, we were able to create an aggressive timetable to complete the project.”
That vision included using a traditional longhouse as a basis for design. Also the team was instructed to bring in the beautiful surroundings of the site in its design.
“We wanted to mimic the architecture of the Onondaga’s longhouse in creating the skeletal structure of the building,” said lead architect Paul Huysman. “We used the windows and the sightlines to highlight the surrounding hills and stream. The rocks pillars help tie the building to the nearby stream. I think it came out even better than anticipated.”
Raymond D’Hollander who presented the award on behalf of the ASCE Syracuse Section to the Onondaga Nation was impressed.
“We’ve celebrated the engineering feats in the remediation and protection of watersheds in the past,” commented D’Hollander. “This project not only accomplished those goals, but it also acknowledged the importance of protecting the Onondaga cultural heritage and integrating buildings into the local community. This building and others like these are a stepping stone for progressing into the future.”
The future of Tsha Thoñ’nhes is providing a great place for the people of the Onondaga Nation to keep a healthy year-round.
“When we were in our initial planning stages,” added Powless. “We wanted a building that could accommodate many different sports or activities throughout the year.”
Huysman commented, “If you check on the [Tsha Thoñ’nhes] website, it is always booked! Lacrosse, volleyball, softball, sports training and even dodgeball! This is just as we hoped would happen when we designed the building.”
Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes was designed, planned and constructed all within 8 months to prepare for Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes first event, the World Lacrosse Championships in September of 2015.
“Sometimes buildings are built just to look pretty,” added D’Hollander. “But this building was beautifully engineered to showcase the Onondaga Nation. Not only people from the Syracuse area were able to enjoy it, but people from around the world were able to take in this building.”
“This building really shows what our community can accomplish,” stated Abrams. It was great to be a part of a team that created an environmentally friendly, sustainable building for our people. And being recognized by the ASCE Syracuse Section is just the topping to a successful project.”
Special Thanks go out to St. Germain & Aupperle (Engineer), Hueber-Breuer (General Contractor), Bennetts & Huysman Architects, Unalam, Kenney Geotechnical, Ram-Tech Engineers, Maxian & Horst and to the men and women of the Onondaga Nation who worked to construct Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes.