Milgard Hall

A land acknowledgment for a new university building, recounting the history of Pacific Northwest forests.
Milgard Hall
Tacoma, Washington
Principal: Kristine Matthews
Project Lead: Marta Bernstein
Designer: Eli Kahn
Project Manager: Samantha Segar
Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
Contractor: Anderson Construction
Research and copywriting: Mark Pagano and Michael Sullivan
Ceramic tile imprints: Claudia Riedner
Puyallup plankhouse illustration: Heidi Bohn
Tribal Map: Deborah Reade
Artifact photography: Ryan Moriarty
Tree photography: John Tylczak
Eli Kahn
Installation, Interpretation

Milgard Hall, a new sustainably-designed timber building on the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO), sits where lumber warehouses and industry once bustled, and where thick forests once grew. This permanent installation at the building’s entry tells the story of forests and their significance to the region. In doing so, it serves as land acknowledgment not only for Milgard Hall but for the wider university campus.

The installation includes maps of forest and tribal areas, commissioned artwork and illustrations, and a series of historical and contemporary monochromatic photographs printed on plywood to convey the rich history of the region, from deep past to the present day and beyond.

Viewers learn how retreating glaciers gave rise to old growth forest which were maintained and utilized by the Puyallup tribe for millennia. The arrival of settlers and the Industrial Age marked a period of mass exploitation of resources. More recently, new technologies and more thoughtful, sustainable construction practices along with regenerative forestry practices have evolved. Milgard Hall itself, with its cross-laminated timber construction and energy-saving features, serves as a case study in this timeline of timber.

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