Last month, the Friendship House Association of American Indians revealed design concepts for The Village SF, a six-story, 43,000 square-foot Indigenous community and services center sited in the heart of San Francisco’s newly-recognized American Indian Cultural District. Under the leadership of a coalition of Indigenous organizations, the Village will create a physical, cultural, and spiritual nexus – a “gathering of fires” – facilitating community connection and providing essential services for the 6,000+ person community in San Francisco.

The Village SF proposes a new model for environmental justice and sustainable urban living rooted in and grown from Indigenous wisdom and values, manifesting the vision of late Friendship House founder Helen Waukazoo (Navajo) for a sacred physical place that urban inter-tribal Indigenous Peoples could call “home.” Located at 80 Julian Avenue beside Friendship House’s Healing Center, the project will include community-based services (such as housing navigation, benefits counseling, workforce development, and education), a Women’s Lodge and shelter, a medical and dental clinic, a cultural center, dedicated youth and teen spaces, and transitional housing for those seeking a professional path to social work. The Village SF aims to ensure the well-being of the community for seven generations, renew an ancestral kinship with the Earth and other life elements, and bring visibility to Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous coalition organizations include Native American Health Center, The Women’s Lodge, the American Indian Cultural District, American Indian Cultural Center, and the SFUSD Indian Education Program, Title VII.

3D section of the project showing the different floors of programming

The Village SF will be a “living example of centering traditional Indigenous values, connection to land, culture and identity with principles of sustainability, ecology and resiliency in the fight for environmental justice.” Sustainable practices permeate the proposed design, from its mass-timber structure to its 4,000-square-foot rooftop farm and healing space being developed by Top Leaf Farms. Other aspects of the project include a ceremonial, communal stair connecting the various levels of programming, a breathing skin of operable windows and brise-soleil, rainwater and greywater recycling, didactic building systems, and resilient backup systems and refuge resources. Planning and engagement organized by Equity Community Builders have informed project design. (A full project introduction can be found here.)

Aerial rendering of The Village SF showing roof garden

The Village was first announced in December 2020, following the establishment of the American Indian Cultural District. In January, the project team submitted documentation to the City of San Francisco for Preliminary Project Assessment. Community engagement and concept refinements continue, as does fundraising towards project construction.

Map of the American Indian Cultural District, San Francisco

PYATOK has previously completed several projects for Indigenous communities in the western United States, including Seven Directions + Native American Health Center in Oakland and Devine Legacy in Phoenix, Arizona. Other Indigenous housing projects are currently in design and planning phases.

Renderings by Transparent House.

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