The Narragansett Indian Tribal Health Center, a free-standing 18,000-SF health facility located in Charlestown, Rhode Island, has recently reached completion. The S/L/A/M Collaborative designed the facility with S/L/A/M Construction Services (SLAM CS) serving as the owner’s representative on the project. The new facility houses clinical exam rooms, Rehab/Physical Therapy, a Behavioral Health Suite, Imaging Suite, Dental Suite, Pharmacy, Nutrition Clinic, Laboratory and Financial Counseling as well as administrative, social services and other nursing areas.
SLAM CS provided comprehensive owner’s representative services including pre-construction services and full-time construction oversight. Project Executive, Eugene Torone, along with Field Representative Paul Darasz worked closely with all tribal members, the general contracting firm, D.F. Pray, The S/L/A/M Collaborative’s architectural, interior design and landscape architecture team led by Principal-in-Charge, Bill Karanian, and the civil engineering firm of Caputo & Wick. “SLAM was able to engage in a collaborative effort throughout the process, striving to create one project design team”, says Bill Karanian, AIA, ACHA. “This assured a successful project execution and completion while demonstrating our decade-long commitment to the Narragansett Tribe.”
Karanian stated that cultural symbols, forms, color, history and myth were essential in guiding all decision-making and the building’s design. The circle, a most sacred symbol to the tribe, served as the founding conceptual foundation used to generate both the symbolic and practical organization for the project. The center of the circle is left open to nature and is utilized to invoke a fragment or memory of ancestral land. The building itself was developed in a concentric fashion to embrace the natural center while also responding to site features and program elements. Overlaid upon the circle is a reference to orientations central to tribal form making, which helps to further articulate the building culturally.
“This is a project that has been twelve years in the making,” said Eugene Torone of S/L/A/M Construction Services. “The health center’s initial design began in 2004. Facing many challenges, it evolved significantly over the course of the design phase, funding approvals and construction. We were tasked with ensuring that the project kept its forward momentum. As the owner’s representative, we were committed to the tribe’s best interests, from the project’s inception through completion.”
Various funding agencies were brought on board throughout the process, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services. SLAM CS assisted the tribe with each of the agencies regulatory requirements, funding allocations and reporting. Early in construction, the discovery of sacred artifacts located within the building’s footprint, led to a complete relocation of the building on the site. “Despite the site change, funding and budget challenges, SLAM was able to develop solutions to overcome these obstacles”, says Karanian. SLAM CS facilitated all communications among team members in order to ensure a successful outcome.