Drachman Institute


The Hia-Ced O'odham Program was established in 1987 to identify the Hia-Ced O'odham descendents and to acquire aboriginal lands of the Hia-Ced O'odham. In 2003, based on their work, the Tohono O'odham Nation purchased a 642.7-acre site (a full section or one square mile) near Why, Arizona as a "home base" for the Hia-Ced O'odham. In January 2009, the Hia-Ced O'odham Program requested that the Drachman Institute, through a technical assistance grant from the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), provide assistance in planning and design for the "home base" site.

Based on site constraints, coordination with the Hia-Ced O'odham Program, and feedback from the Hia-Ced O'odham Advisory Committee and other community members, the Drachman Institute developed a series of alternate site plans that included residential, commercial, and community development. The primary focus of this plan was to develop a prototype community that exemplifies the best of sustainability, culture, community connectivity, and appropriate land use.

The site, housing, and community designs and principles were presented to the Hia-Ced O'odham Advisory Committee and other community members through a series of public community meetings. Their feedback resulted in a final recommended master site plan and multiple housing design concepts.

The goal of this document, which presents the housing designs and the master site plan developed through that process, is to provide the Hia-Ced O'odham with the information, knowledge, and momentum to move this project forward toward becoming a district of the Tohono O'odham Nation and ultimately creating a permanent, sustainable, healthy, and beautiful community they can call home.


date: January 2010


  • near Why, AZ


  • Hia-Ced O'odham Program

project type:

  • planning and design

project source/funding:

  • ADOH

DI team:

  • Peter McBride, Architecture Research Coordinator
  • Scott Stephens, Landscape Architecture student
  • Colleen Cummings, Architecture student