At the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ new cultural plaza and museum, set to open at the intersection of East Tahquitz Canyon Way and Indian Canyon Drive later this year, history and culture are everything.
In May, the plaza’s terrazzo flooring, inspired by traditional woven basket patterns, won the prestigious Honor Award from the trade organization National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association.
“Incorporating our tribal culture into the design of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza is a way for us to acknowledge our history, traditions and heritage,” said Agua Caliente Chairman Reid D. Milanovich in an email.
“Our ancestors are well known for the incredible, intricate baskets that showcase designs of animals, plants, desert landscapes and patterns. To be able to include some of those basket designs into the terrazzo floor patterns throughout The Spa at Séc-he and the museum is a true celebration of our history.”
Basket weaving was integral to traditional Cahuilla life, serving as a rite of passage when elders gave young Cahuilla their own baskets when they came of age, according to an article in “Me Yah Whae”, the official magazine of the tribe. The basket designs feature representations of animals, nature and geometric patterns.
Corradini Corp., a terrazzo contractor from Costa Mesa, designed and installed the cultural plaza’s flooring. Chris Corradini, the president of the company, explained that the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association establishes national standards for terrazzo flooring.
Corradini and his team worked closely with Agua Caliente during the design process, he said. The designs were created using brown and tan chips of composite materials, which lack the iridescent elements commonly found in other terrazzo designs.
Typically, terrazzo flooring designs are also broken up by metal dividers to separate the colors of chips. Corradini said the terrazzo floors in the cultural plaza are especially unique because the designs appear more seamless because of the minimal use of divider strips.
“That’s very rare,” Corradini said. “Because it’s so intricate and takes time.”
While the rest of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, including the museum, is set to open later this year, The Spa at Séc-he opened in April. The museum will feature contemporary art from Native American artists, exhibitions on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian, and historical artifacts from Agua Caliente.