“They will put together a plan and until that plan is solid, then we really don’t have an end date for the completion of the interior.” — MCN Tribal Construction Assistant Director Thomas Harjo
Natural elements incorporated into design
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tribal Construction Assistant Director Thomas Harjo discussed the completion of the Mound Building project’s exterior and the next steps towards its final completion.
Harjo said the Mound project began in December 2015.
He said there was no set site plans for the area of land the Mound was built on.
Harjo said as a result of lacking site plans they ran into many obstacles.
One obstacle the construction crew faced was finding utility lines underneath the building during the construction phase.
“There was a lot of infrastructure that needed to be done. The sewer lines needed to be rerouted, the electrical lines needed to be rerouted, water lines, those all had to be done to attain what you see out here,” he said.
Harjo said most of the construction conducted on the Mound was done in-house.
He estimates the project totaled $1.8 million.
“Some of the renovations on the inside, now that would be a different phase, we still have that phase to accomplish so that was going to get pushed back to the fall,” Harjo said.
He hopes to limit additional costs to the project.
“Hopefully that will be not so much of an added cost to what we were already appropriated,” Harjo said.
Currently, the crew is working with FSB, an architectural firm in OKC.
The firm will work in conjunction with the Mound Oversight Committee to put together a plan for the interior.
“They will put together a plan and until that plan is solid, then we really don’t have an end date for the completion of the interior,” Harjo said.
The architecture firm will analyze the function of the building and see how the space is being utilized so they can reassess the best way to redo the interior of the Mound.
Harjo said the stone around the Mound is from a pit from Heavener.
He said the openings on the north and south end were not in the original design.
“That element really came from one of our elders . . . we try to incorporate everybody’s input. That includes the clan symbols that you see around the top of the parapet wall,” Harjo said.
He said the number of clans differ from the College of the Muscogee Nation building design.
“Because there was some clans that were left out in that design, so what we did was we put that decision into the hands of the traditional leaders to come up with a list of currently up to date clans,” Harjo said.
The Mound Oversight Committee also chose the wooden benches found outside the Mound.
“They really thought that since we were using a lot of natural elements in this building, in this project they thought that the natural cedar would look nice against the natural stone,” Harjo said.
He said the workers inside the Mound were having health issues due to the dirt touching the wall.
“What that did was that trapped a lot of moisture inside the walls and created mold in certain areas,” Harjo said.
He said they moved the dirt 12 feet back, which helped create a drier space inside.
Moving the dirt away from the building was another reason the project took longer than expected.
“There’s a lot more than just pulling this away and putting something back, there was infrastructure that needed to be redone,” Harjo said.
They also insulated the ceiling.
“It wasn’t insulated at all, so we insulated the walls and the ceiling and it really helped them feel comfortable inside now,” Harjo said.
The wood above the exterior of the Mound is Western Red Cedar.
Harjo said one of the hardest parts of the project was the metal roof.
“Its hard to put something that’s flat on something that’s round . . . one of the challenges was finding a contractor that had the capabilities to form the panels,” he said.
The Mound is lit up at night along with the different clan symbols around the parapet.