Interior view of pavilion
Courtesy Kéré Architecture Interior view of pavilion

Fishtail, Mont.–based nonprofit the Tippet Rise Art Center has commissioned Berlin-based architect Francis Kéré, Hon. FAIA, to design a permanent 1,900-square-foot pavilion for its 10,260-acre grounds overlooking the Beartooth Mountains. As part of the agreement, the Tippest Rise Fund will support the construction of a new school building in Kéré's native Burkina Faso as part of his eponymous firm's ongoing Naaba Belem Goumma Secondary School project.

Conceptualized as an "elevated gathering place," the design for the circular pavilion is inspired by sacred shelters in Mali called togunas, which are constructed with wood pillars and wood and millet straw roofs. The structure will have a canopy constructed from vertical, locally sourced ponderosa and lodgepole pine logs of varying heights; seating areas will be located beneath the undulating ceiling plane. Visitors will be able to see a new nearby footbridge—part of Kéré's design—a stream, and a copse of aspen and cottonwood trees from the irregular loop of seating that was inspired by paintings by artist and Tippet Rise co-founder Cathy Halstead.

Exterior view of the pavilion
Courtesy Kéré Architecture Exterior view of the pavilion
Circularaerial bridge that is part of the Pavilion designed by Francis Kéré at Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana.
Courtesy Kéré Architecture Circularaerial bridge that is part of the Pavilion designed by Francis Kéré at Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana.

"While sitting in Francis Kéré’s pavilion at Tippet Rise, visitors will be able to watch the sun move across the land through the trees and feel a mist from a summer rainfall overhead," said Halstead and co-founder Peter Halstead in a press release from the art center. "We hope this gathering place will enable our visitors to explore the links that Kéré forges between art and science, to experience the deep-rooted similarities among the cultures of places as distant as Burkina Faso and Montana, and above all to feel drawn together in friendship.”

“Standing on the high meadow of Tippet Rise Art Center, looking out at the mountains under a vast sky, people can face nature at its widest scale," Kéré said in the same release. "But with this pavilion, Tippet Rise offers a more intimate experience of its landscape within a quiet shelter, where people can access the most secret part of nature: the heart of the trees.”

Courtesy Kéré Architecture

Both the pavilion and the Burkina Faso school are slated for completion in 2019. Laura Viklund Gunn of Powell, Wy.–based Gunnstock Timber Frames will serve as the local project architect for the pavilion.