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Durbin Learning

  /    /    /  Durbin Learning

At A Glance:

  • Competed in 2023
  • Sq. ft.: 52,000
  • Architect: Childers
  • Library sq. ft.: Approx. 5000
  • Construction: Manhattan
  • Project Mgmt. Space Planning, Specifications, Provided Furniture from our Trusted Manufacturers, Receiving, Deliver & Install

In 2022, the Cherokee Nation made its most significant language investment in tribal history. The $20 million Durbin Feeling Language Center in Tahlequah, OK, is a generational project to help maintain the Cherokee language. With only an estimated 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers left, this center will be a pivotal place of learning and cultural preservation for years to come.

One of the most critical challenges was that the 52,000-square-foot building is a balance of active learning and an homage to the Cherokee nation. The job’s specific requirements required unique processes in the planning and design phase and thoughtful consideration of the solutions we provided. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr communicated the project’s significance. “Our language is part of that unbroken chain that links us back to our creation. This Durbin Feeling Language Center will be the epicenter of our mission to ensure that our chain remains unbroken and we save and perpetuate our language.”

The gravity of the project and the race against time to be completed before the grand opening event presented the Interior Logistics team with an opportunity to showcase our team’s diverse skillset.

The Interior Logistics team was involved throughout the project’s development process along with Childers Architect and Manhattan Construction. Before construction began, our team was involved in helping to uncover the Executive Director of the Department of Cherokee Language Howard Paden’s vision for the space and then developing a detailed plan to make that vision come to life. The architect on the project pre-selected paint and flooring, which guided the initial color palette. The Interior Logistics team carefully chose fabrics and vinyl, seamlessly blending into the overall scheme. Color and textures always play an essential role in the design process, but this space’s historical and symbolic significance required a deeper understanding and execution. This is especially apparent in the Vault of Artifacts, where the red color utilized is symbolic as Cherokee warriors used it to shield themselves from harm.

During design, the project’s scope evolved as the vision expanded from 20,0000 to over 50,000 square feet. The Cherokee Nation team realized that expertise was needed to furnish a cohesive FF&E strategy and design tailored for teachers, staff, and students. Our team surveyed the building frequently to ensure the built plans were accurate, using onsite measurements to address detailed items such as electrical power placement in real-time.

Our team worked closely with the Art Consultant for the project to ensure that the furniture and casegoods aligned architecturally and provided design harmony with the art requirements and the building’s many windows and other architectural elements.

Beyond the aesthetics, the space needed to be highly functional and versatile with specific product criteria such as durability, ease of cleaning for infection control, and availability. The furniture specified required it to be durable while meeting many uses. Our team worked with our trusted manufacturing partners to determine seating and tables that would accommodate a variety of ages. Executive offices were designed and furnished to meet the specific needs of each individual. Even the credenza in the conference room was custom-built to accommodate a mini fridge. Folding chairs in the gym with the Durbin branding had to be created with a custom process that infused the black ink into the engraving to stand out visually. Our team provided highly personalized solutions by understanding the specific needs and uses of each space within the overall project.

Interior Logistics was honored to be a part of this successful project. The Durbin Feeling Language Center includes:

  • Seventeen classrooms, including nursery through 8th grade as well as adult classrooms.
  • Collaborative Learning Library w/break out spaces for a variety of activities.
  • High-Density Storage Vault of Historical Archive for Documents & Artifacts
  • A gymnasium and playground.
  • Other additions will support the Cherokee Language Department’s efforts for decades.

The completed project showcases well-thought-out spaces that visually define a growing, productive environment while paying homage to the Cherokee Nation’s past and future. Our team, along with a few thousand people, were all on hand to celebrate the completion of the project on Grand Opening Day. A sense of pride and enthusiasm was apparent in the personnel who proudly showed off their new space.

“Generations from now, our descendants will judge us not by the size of our casinos, the expanse of our health system, or the excellent things we do to address any number of challenges. They will judge us on whether we kept alive what it means to be Cherokee, said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

We are thrilled to have been a part of this project and are excited to be already working with the Cherokee Nation on their next project.