DSGW Architects, a 75-year old community oriented firm, has promoted Native American designer Michael Laverdure to partner. Mike leads DSGW’s First American Design Studio whose focus is on developing communities in Indian Country and creating opportunities for Native Americans to become fully engaged in design and construction.
“When Mike joined DSGW in 2008, we knew he would make a great partner,” said Randy Wagner, Managing Partner of DSGW. “Before he joined us, a significant amount of our work was tribal. With his leadership, DSGW has become even more engaged in the development of tribal communities. Mike has a passion for giving back and cares about designing buildings that serve as elders in Native American communities.”
Mike is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, located in North Dakota. He is a board member of Minnesota’s American Indian Chamber of Commerce and a Sequoyah member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. As the outgoing president of the regional AISES chapter, he is working with others to raise funds to promote STEM activities for Native Youth. Mike graduated from North Dakota State University’s College of Architecture and is currently finishing his architectural registration exams. Once complete, he will be one of a select few Native American Architects in the country.
“DSGW is committed to tribes,” explains Mike. “Our participation and dedication to Native clientele is superior.” Mikes mother, Betty Laverdure told him, “Always use your talents for the betterment of the whole, before you think of your own needs. As you do good, good will come back to you.” Mikes states that this advice has taught him how to become a designer who listens to clientele closely and then translate that into architecture.
Building sustainably is more than just building green, it’s about subsistence. “It’s about promoting heritage through the use of language and art,” said Mike. “It also means construction that grows local tribal employment. That is sustainability as well – sustainability of economy.”
The renovation and addition to the Skydancer Casino and Hotel in Mike’s hometown of Belcourt is a prime example of a building that celebrates culture and stimulates the economy. The design reflects the northern lights, from which the name “skydancer” stems. Details incorporated into the building speak to the tribe’s culture. The addition and hotel opened in November 2012; the renovation is scheduled to open this spring.
“Listening, along with my heritage has given me unique insight into cultural design,” stated Mike. “It is also, coincidentally, in-line with DSGW’s belief of building sustainable communities and enriching them through architecture.”