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First Americans Museum

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Tulsa Area United Way
Photo by Chris Strout


Manhattan Construction

Flintco, LLC. Construction


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Services Provided


Overview of Project

The First Americans Museum allows visitors to experience the histories of the 39 distinctive First American Nations in Oklahoma today. This museum shares the cultural diversity, history, and contributions of the First Americans. The designs of the museum reflect the various symbolic images and meaning within the different Native communities that reside in Oklahoma. The $175 million, 175,000 square-foot museum is located just off of I-35 and I-40 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The museum was a large scale project which included:

A 90-foot-tall earth mound, gallery spaces, museum store, restaurant, theater, meeting, administration spaces, classrooms, courtyards, and a 110-foot-tall glass dome named Hall of The People. Hall of The People will accommodate up to 300 guests for receptions, banquets, dinners, performances, etc. The design and location of the structure include attractive alignments for the summer and winter solstices, which create a relational tie between the natural and built environment. (Manhattan Construction)

The First Americans Museum seeks to help guests learn about Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations’ through events, art, architecture, and various other experiences. More than 100 artifacts previously been on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indians will be on loan to First Americans Museum for ten years. The loaning of these artifacts required the First Americans Museum to follow strict designs and constructions standards set by the Smithsonian. Building elements such as the lighting controls, building controls, HVAC systems, and waterproofing were particular areas of importance to ensure that the artifacts would be kept safe and preserved for years to come.

For energy efficiency, buried outside the central plant, eighteen mechanical ice storage tanks are used to chill the HVAC water during the peak electrical load times during the day. The chiller runs at night to re-freeze the liquid in the tanks when the electricity demand is at its lowest. In addition, the Hall of The People and FAM theater lobby contains, within the floor slabs, integral radiant heating and cooling systems to supplement the HVAC system. (Manhattan Construction)

ES2 installed the controls for all the mechanical equipment and the radiant floor system in the Hall of the People, a completely glass-enclosed structure. Extensive time and effort were put into ensuring that the critical humidity and temperature sequences were perfect for all the spaces. The humidity controls proved essential to ensuring that the painting and artifacts stay preserved for future generations to visit and enjoy. The radiant floor system, capable of both a heating and cooling floor, was the first one of its kind installed in a building in Oklahoma. ES2 worked on the design of the radiant floor system to develop additional safety design features to ensure that the floor did not heat or cool too rapidly. ES2's TAB team performed air and hydronic test and balance for the HVAC systems serving the building.

As a proud Oklahoma company, ES2 was honored to contribute our skills and knowledge to help construct the First Americans Museum. We enjoyed rising to the challenge of meeting Smithsonian-specific criteria for the temperature controls for the building.

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