A new, Indian-owned firm that helps tribes plan building projects with the goal of sustaining their communities will receive mentoring and support from one of the oldest and most established architecture firms in Minnesota, officials of both companies announced March 11.
The First American Design Studio will work with DSGW Architects, which has offices in Duluth, the Iron Range and the Twin Cities, to assist tribes nationwide in planning for expansion, growth and development in their communities, often including the design and construction of buildings. Since 1938, DSGW has provided services to more than 25 Native American communities throughout the Midwest over three decades of operation.
First American Design Studio is owned by Michael Laverdure, a registered architect and enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Laverdure, who has worked for the 75-year-old firm DSGW since 2008, became its newest partner in January 2013.
“The architectural planning services that First American Design Studio offers, such as budgeting, site analysis, facility assessments, capital campaign assistance and master planning, help tribal leaders develop a vision,” said Laverdure, founder of First American Design Studio. “It’s really all about the effort around a project to get it to the point where a tribe is ready to move forward and work with an architect. We want help plan and advocate for growth within Native communities.”
At DSGW, Laverdure helped the firm secure projects in Native communities throughout the Midwest.
“When Mike joined DSGW, we knew he dreamed of owning a Native American firm,” said Randy Wagner, a partner at DSGW Architects and also at First American Design Studio. “A significant amount of DSGW’s work is tribal. With Mike’s leadership, we have become even more engaged.”
Wagner added: “The creation of a Native-owned business allows an even greater opportunity for development of tribal communities outside of the Midwest. Mike has a passion for giving back and cares about designing buildings that serve as elders in Native American communities.”
Laverdure is a board member of Minnesota’s American Indian Chamber of Commerce and is a Sequoyah member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. As the outgoing president of the regional, professional AISES chapter, he works to raise funds to promote science, technology, engineering and math activities for Native youth. Mike graduated from North Dakota State University’s College of Architecture and is a registered architect.