Kansas City, Mo. — An important project is underway on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. The Thunder Valley Regenerative Plan is a visionary community design collaboration with the intent to create a sustainable, climate-change-resilient community that embraces Lakota values and culture, and serves the urgent housing needs of some 4,000 people. This community’s age demographics — half of the community is younger than 18 — points to the fact that the housing pressures in the community will intensify.

BNIM is the lead planner of the project master plan for the model regenerative community and architect for the multifamily and mixed-used buildings. Goals of the development include creating a system of high performance water collection and reuse, ecological wastewater treatment, and onsite renewable energy creation through solar, wind and geothermal energy transfer.

Working with the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, BNIM has completed the design for the first two-building facility, the Thunder Valley Community Center and Guest House, and construction is expected to begin this summer. These buildings are an integral part of the overall design, functioning as important community gathering places. The first phase of single family homes — by Pyatt Studio — began construction in the Fall of 2016.

“An essential goal of this project is building community capacity and empowerment,” says Christina Hoxie, Director of BNIM’s nationally recognized planning studio, who is integrally involved with the Thunder Valley project. “This goal is being realized through the design of a resilient Lakota mixed use community inspired by the tradition of craftsmanship and connection to the land, as well as commitment to growing the local economy, high quality affordable housing, and healthy food and programming for all ages.”