Building stronger community and educational opportunities

Lukachukai Community School

On this 44-acre site in Lukachukai, AZ, the new education and housing facilities serves Native American students and faculty with healthy environments to meet the goals of teacher recruitment, student engagement, and community support with positive education outcomes.

Designing with Culture in Mind

A K-8 school, student dormitory, staff housing, and sports field with running tracks come together, replacing and consolidating outdated facilities. The campus is located on the Navajo Nation, surrounded by beautiful views of the Chuska mountain range adjacent to the buffalo pass, lending itself to a more conducive learning and living environment for rural communities.

The new Lukachukai Community School campus is designed to reflect Navajo cultural values, and meets Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) guidelines for spaces, materials, and durability. With multiple construction packages and a tight schedule, BIA review milestones were met on the project. We partnered with NEZ/FCI for the design/build team, working closely with school Board members, staff, and local community cultural experts. Their feedback and collaboration informed the design of the entire facility: location, layout, and inter-relationships between various buildings on the campus. Building orientation, culturally significant in- and outdoor areas, and key Navajo geological landmarks are all used by teachers and community members to pass knowledge down to future generations of students.

Playground design that reflects Native American culture and values on the Navajo Nation in Lukachukai, AZ.
Elementary and middle school campus design that reflects Native American culture and values on the Navajo Nation in Lukachukai, AZ.

Powering a Rural Community

Through close work with the local Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) Office, a plan came together to supply energy to the campus’ location. Water storage, sanitary sewer lagoon, propane storage, and electricity are sized appropriately for efficiency and the needs of housing units, school, and other facilities. The upgrade of electrical and water infrastructure to the site also benefits the adjacent residences, preparing the community for continued growth in the years to come. The project is also pursuing LEED Silver Certification for all buildings on campus, creating a modern, healthy environment for students and inhabitants. The design makes the most of the site, providing ample daylighting for interior spaces, and plenty of outdoor space for learning and recreation.

From start to fruition, our team engaged heavily with NEZ/FCI to ensure the design of the facility matched the community's vision and expectations. Pictured below are images from the initial groundbreaking and ribbon cutting.

Serving Educators and Their Families

Teacher housing is situated on the south end of the site, with units for teachers and their families of all sizes. The homes, a mix of 3-bedroom single family houses and 2- and 1-bedroom duplexes, are grouped together for privacy from students and a community feel. Our team worked concurrently on school and housing design to support staff recruitment, managing production efforts to complete the work on various facilities simultaneously.

Teacher housing at Lukachukai Community School, located to one side of campus for privacy and convenience for faculty. The campus is designed for the Navajo culture, reflecting the culture and values of the Native American community it serves.

Integrating Sustainable Design with Rural Development

Early in the design phase, the DPS Sustainability Team and project leads met with stakeholders. Our team conducted solar and wind impact analyses for the Lukachukai facilities. In the final design, prevailing winds in the area were addressed by strategically orienting the playground site and building entrances.

Bringing performance analysis and sustainability best practices into the process is vital to our work. Involving stakeholders at this early stage leads to a deeper understanding of community needs, ensuring the most critical among them are prioritized in design.

The project brings the campus up to speed with current community needs and looks ahead with design that is durable and easy to maintain. The design/build team worked together to produce the completed project within a fast-track schedule. All design and construction for 140,000sf was completed in just fifteen months, serving the community of Lukachukai with thoughtful spaces for education and living.

Check out another project where housing and education come together to serve students.


Beyond the Building

  • Building Performance
  • Community Benefit
  • Creating Partnerships
  • Mission Support
  • Sustainability
  • Wellness


Sports field to serve Lukachukai Community School and the surrounding area.