Onondaga Elderly Center

The Onondaga Nation and the broader Haudenosaunee community have a need for an elderly center, a facility within the nation that could support important community functions and provide care for an aging population who currently goes outside of the nation to access these services. This project was initiated by nation members, more specifically the Clan Mothers, including Sarah Patterson, Linda Koch and Angela Ferguson, who’s suggestion became the prompt for a Fall 2022 graduate design studio at the AAP led by professors Anna Dietzsch and Scott Ruff. The fifteen studio proposals provided them with many visions for the elderly center, so that a larger conversation could be broached within the community and eventually brought to the Council of Chiefs. With this grant, we hope to initiate this conversation; to further develop the project in partnership with the community and to provide actionable knowledge and tangible ideas, so that the nation can move forward with internal approvals and funding strategies.

As described below, we will initially show the studio work at the Onondaga Nation by organizing a kick-off workshop around the studio projects as part of one of the Nation’s Elderly Program regularly scheduled luncheons. We have produced booklets describing the students’ work, which will be printed and bound, and displayed next to the drawings and models, so we can get community feed-back. The event will be recorded through video and pictures, so initial material for community consultation can be produced and distributed in printed and/or digital format.

Responding to the community’s expectation that the new center will also foster intergenerational encounters, the proposal is to work with Onondaga youth members to produce a web-site, blog or pod-cast, that will involve them as direct participants in the engagement process and also provide them with technical tools to do it. The ultimate goal is to foster community engagement and response, so together with the Clan Mothers we can produce a feasibility-study of the elderly center project for Council approval.

Photos arranges on the floor with notes

The engagement and design group is currently consisted of professors Caroline O’Donnel and Anna Dietzsch (AAP), who will coordinate and supervise the work, along with AAP Master students Arseny Pekurovsky and Rex Miller, who participated in the “Engaged Practices Fall 22 Design Studio” and have, since then, been involved with Prof. Dietzsch in the organization of the initial Onondaga workshop, as well as in the making of the video installation “Haudenosaunee Voices”, when they were able to start engagement with the Onondaga community.


  • Onondaga Clan mothers including Sarah Patterson, Linda Koch and Angela Ferguson

  • Anna Dietzsch (AAP)

  • Caroline O'Donnel (AAP)

  • Arseny Pekurovsky (AAP Master's student)

  • Rex Miller (AAP Master's student)