House of Healing - PW774

Architect's rendering of House of Healing with tall trees in the background

In partnership and close collaboration with Coast Salish tribal nations and the Western Native American Student Union, Western is planning to build a Coast Salish style longhouse, called the House of Healing, in honor of the historic importance of place that it occupies and in acknowledgement of the University’s responsibility to promote educational opportunities for Native students.

Western's Bellingham campus is located within the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived throughout the Salish Sea basin and Cascade Mountains watersheds from time immemorial. Specifically, the Bellingham campus occupies traditional Lhaq’temish (people of the sea) Lummi territory.

The longhouse will be a place for healing—not only for Native Americans who continue to navigate the grief of intergenerational trauma—but also for our entire community. The longhouse will be a place to bring people together in reflection and education in a spirit of collective healing.

The House of Healing will include a gathering hall that will support educational, community, and cultural functions, a teaching/warming kitchen, student lounges and other support services. The outdoor spaces will include gathering areas, cooking space, and educational gardens with native plantings that may be used in teaching indigenous science, art, and medicine. The building will reflect traditional Coast Salish architecture and design and will serve as a gathering and ceremonial space for native students as well as Coast Salish tribal nations throughout the Salish Sea region.

It will support American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nation students in academics by providing a dedicated space on the university campus for students to gather, build community and support each other. An identity conscious facility will have a powerful impact on the recruitment and retention of Native students, but more importantly will promote cultural sovereignty and a sense of place for Native students, faculty, staff, and tribal communities. The longhouse will also enhance through action Western’s land acknowledgement statement for the campus and tribal communities who serve Native students.

The new building will serve as an educational center to promote healing, cultural exchange, and supportive understanding for the communities served by the university. The Coast Salish people have long understood the importance of collective healing in response to shared historical trauma, as well as holding the power of traditional and cultural practices in order to overcome hardship. By acknowledging the past trauma and suffering of Indigenous people and all ethnic groups, as well as the grief and suffering caused by the global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, the proposed Coast Salish House of Healing will benefit the recovery process for all people who have suffered and continue on a road of recovery. 

As with the historic longhouses and other places of gathering built by the Coast Salish peoples, Western’s House of Healing will celebrate its connection to the land and ecosystem of the region. In that spirit, the project will seek to maximize the use of locally sourced materials and products in its construction and furnishings. The design also plans to use high efficiency mechanical systems and a high-performance envelope that will lower energy costs and the reduce the carbon footprint over the life of the building, together with Low Impact Development site design strategies.

The project is currently in design with the Design Build team of Wellman-Zuck / Jones & Jones / Rolluda Architects, with construction expected to begin in the spring of 2024.

Anticipated Construction Start: Spring 2024

Anticipated Completion: Summer 2025

Contact Information

Christopher Mead, Project Manager, (360) 650- 4005

Jonathan Higgins, Director, University Communications, (360) 650-3350