Tuesday, April 20, 2021


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Cheyenne River Youth Project retains Pyatt Studio to design new Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts and Culture Institute


The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced on April 5, 2021 that it has retained the services of Boulder, Colorado-based Pyatt Studio for the design of its new Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts and Culture Institute. The grassroots, nonprofit organization will break ground for its new art center during RedCan 2021, scheduled for July 7-10.

“We are thrilled to be working with Pyatt Studio in the creation of our new art center,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “I’ve known Rob Pyatt and Janna Ferguson for years, so it’s an honor to have them be part of this project. Pyatt Studio is an amazing company with great people, and our new art center will be a beautiful addition to our community, providing a wide variety of creative spaces for our treasured young people.”

CRYP has ambitious goals for the 8,000-square-foot art center. It will be net zero, meaning it will produce as much energy as it uses in a year, and Lakota culture will infuse both its design and construction.

“During one of our recent listening sessions with the Cheyenne River community, one tribal member said the building should give back more than it takes,” Pyatt said. “This is a Lakota principle, one that’s important to use as a design goal. With this understanding, we see this as an ‘energy-plus building,’ meaning it produces more energy that it consumes — and shares this extra energy with others.”

The new art center will be designed to serve as a demonstration building, a living classroom that will help teach the next generation of Lakota youth about sustainable construction, renewable energy like wind and solar, and rainwater collection. 

“We’ve always talked with our kids about the importance of sustainability and making choices that help protect Mother Earth,” Garreau said. “They’ve learned about it, and now they need to see it. Our new building will be a dynamic place where these principles come to life, and we’re so excited about that.”

“These are values that will allow all of us to meet our climate targets and climate challenges in the future, supporting a more resilient community,” Pyatt added. “We are honored to support CRYP’s mission in this community, and Julie’s vision for the art center is truly inspiring. We are a human-centered practice, and our best work comes out of community-led projects like this one. In this partnership, which is based on mutual respect, we will strive together to emphasize the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of architecture.”

What’s more, six to eight CRYP Lakota Art Fellows will be working alongside the design team throughout the process.

“This is is about so much more than just a building,” Pyatt said of the Cheyenne River Lakota teens’ involvement. “This is the architectural process at its best.”

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Pyatt Studio has served Indian Country for more than 10 years. Its interdisciplinary design team comprises artists, architects, designers and engineers, each of whom is dedicated to sustainable, culturally relevant community development.

To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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