The Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan is a 17,000 SF visitor center devoted to the history and culture of the Seneca people. The Center is located on the Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, New York. The longhouse symbolizes the culture and values of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy formed when five warring nations came together in a mutually supportive union, agreeing to live together peacefully under an imaginary longhouse stretching from the home of the Seneca in the west to the home of the Mohawk in the east. This union is depicted on the Hiawatha Wampum belt. Its white horizontal line metaphorically connecting the five nations and extending infinitely in both directions.
With the Hiawatha Belt as generatrive diagram, the Center is conceived as a rectangular structure with a major east-west circulation axis similar to that of a traditional longhouse. The Entry Hall intersects this spine and acts as the building’s core, and bridges the southern wooded entry route with the northern landscaped path that leads visitors up to the longhouse. This approach sequence derives from the traditional Seneca rite of passage known as the “wood’s edge” where a visitor undergoes a ritual purification in preparation for and prior to entering the village. The meandering wooded approach as well as Fire & water elements in the open entry plaza symbolically represent this cleansing ritual. This orchestration of building and landscape allows the building to serve as threshold element along the visitor’s path from site entry to the longhouse. The historic site & Seneca culture are discovered by and through the building.
- Place Victor, NY
- Date 2012
- Client The Friends of Ganondagan
- Area 17,000 SF
- Design Architect Francois deMenil Architect, PC
- Architect of Record DeWolff Partnership
- Structural Engineer Jensen/BRV Engineering, PLLC