Otaeciah Crane_Appleton WI_Tom Harris Photography
Otaeciah "Crane"

The University of New Mexico's Department Chair of Architecture, Chris Cornelius, has been awarded the esteemed Best of Practice Award for Best Small Practice in the Southwest by The Architect’s Newspaper. This prestigious recognition celebrates Cornelius' outstanding architectural piece titled "Otaechiah (Crane)” showcasing his exceptional talent and commitment to advancing architectural design and cultural understanding. 

The Best of Practice Awards, presented annually by The Architect’s Newspaper, are a tribute to exceptional individuals and firms that have demonstrated remarkable achievements and innovative contributions to the field of architecture. Cornelius' exemplary work stood out highlighting his ability to create spaces that embrace culture, history, and contemporary design principles.

"It is wonderful recognition of my practice called, studio:indigenous, and the work that I do with Indigenous communities and cultures across the country," said Cornelius. “It is a permanent land acknowledgment that I designed for Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Lawrence University wanted to acknowledge that their campus is located on Menomonee Land in what is now known as Wisconsin. The Menomonee are indigenous to the state and inhabited that land long before it was a state.”

Cornelius' winning piece, "Otaechiah (Crane)” is not meant to symbolize anything specific, but rather serves as a catalyst for meaningful discussions about the indigenous communities that have deep historical connections to the land. It was designed and installed in 2021. 

The project beautifully melds traditional design elements with contemporary concepts, creating a harmonious and meaningful structure that pays homage to the Menomnee heritage and values. Lawrence University has been working hard to recognize that they are on Menominee land and want to incorporate this element into the university community. 

"The piece doesn’t symbolize anything specific other than it is there to prompt discussion about those indigenous to that land. It does point toward the current Federal Reservation the Menomonee people inhabit," Cornelius added.

For more information on the architecture program, visit UNM Architecture.