Architect Chris Cornelius stands under the tree known as “Wisdom Keeper,” a large oak tree on the grounds of the Indian Community School in Franklin. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki UW-Milwaukee Architect Chris Cornelious is looking to make a big splash. Will he have to look outside of his own tribe and city to make that happen?
C hris Cornelius didn’t fall for architecture in the soaring nave of a church or the memorable lines of a skyscraper. Instead, it was the feel of pencil on paper, ancient indigenous values – and his own imagination.
He took to drafting instinctively in an eighth-grade classroom. That’s when he decided to become an architect, he says.
“It felt like a thing that was calling me, and I became very good at it,” says Cornelius, who spent those formative years in the mid-’80s in an unremarkable three-bedroom house, part of public housing on the Oneida reservation near Green Bay.
Today, drawing remains the heart of the UW-Milwaukee associate professor’s unusual practice as an architect. Cornelius is one of a small group of architects in the U.S. to infuse Native American culture into his work. And while he has few permanent building projects in his portfolio, […]