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Legacy Partners

Cushing Terrell | University of Idaho College of Art and Architecture | Marcus Tam Real Estate

Idaho Museum of International Diaspora connects partners to diaspora cultures of Idaho

December 22, 2020 | Co-authors: IMID and Mikayla Kinney, Intern

December marks an exciting month for the Idaho Museum of International Diaspora (IMID) and legacy partners in Idaho including the University of Idaho’s College of Art and Architecture (CAA) in Moscow and Cushing Terrell in Boise – an architecture and engineering firm with offices throughout the nation – as the first phase of the partnership journey wraps up. This initial phase introduced a unique partnership program with two design studios, sponsored by Cushing Terrell. The program provided the perfect opportunity to conceptualize the design of the IMID with a location site anticipated for downtown Boise where local, national, and international visitors can experience the world in Idaho. The IMID will feature the lives of diaspora groups and their cultures from within Idaho and around the world in the past and current contexts. Diaspora is defined as the involuntary displacement of families, children, and individuals of all ages from their origin homelands.

The partnership program engaged seven project teams made up of the fall 2020 semester fourth-year CAA students from professional programs in architecture – taught by Dr. Anne Marshall, Professor of Architecture and American Indian Studies – and interior architecture and design – taught by Dr. Rula Awwad-Rafferty, Program Head and Professor of Interior Architecture and Design. “This is a phenomenal opportunity for students to design such a significant cultural facility whose aim is to represent and serve people from throughout the world,” said Dr. Anne Marshall. “This opportunity is enhanced greatly by interaction with design professionals from Cushing Terrell.”

During the semester, the project teams researched and explored aspects of diaspora cultures, interactive design processes, and two key downtown Boise site options as part of the interdisciplinary collaborative design studios. “The design studios have been incredibly inspiring as we watch each team grow into their concept and develop it further,” said Jason Butler, Principal at Cushing Terrell. “Kudos to all the students participating, for their enthusiasm, creativity, and collaboration, as well as their dedication to making the most of virtual studios and online learning!”

With 123 countries of origin and distinct peoples into Idaho over the state’s history, Idaho maintains pockets of diaspora history and cultures throughout the state. The partnership program offered students a unique immersive learning experience – academically, professionally, and culturally. These experiences included interviews with IMID founder and Executive Director – Dr. Palina Louangketh, professional support and guidance from Cushing Terrell subject matter experts, program feedback from CAA professors, stakeholder narratives and identities, case studies, and documentation through journaling and video production. “The goal of the program is not only to develop compelling, conceptual designs for IMID, but to give students an opportunity to tell a story through the design journey – just as IMID will tell the stories of people from different cultures, their journeys, and ultimate place-making in Idaho,” said Dr. Rula Awwad-Rafferty.

The partnership program wrapped-up at the end of the fall semester this month. “In a challenging time for higher education and a semester that included class interruptions for wildfire smoke and the switch to a virtual learning environment, I have been continually inspired and amazed by the efforts of our architecture and interior architecture and design student teams and their faculty, Dr. Anne Marshall and Dr. Rula Awwad-Rafferty,” said Dr. Shauna Corry, Dean of the College of Art and Architecture. “As the semester evolved, each project review highlighted developing concepts, an increasing understanding of the client’s needs, and a desire to design a meaningful and memorable museum that will tell important stories, retrace transformational journeys, and celebrate the many cultures of Idaho.”

Each of the seven project teams presented their final renderings to a multidisciplinary group of professionals from across three states consisting of museum professionals, architects, engineers, and scholars in the architecture and design fields. The project teams’ presentations captured Dr. Palina Louangketh’s vision for the IMID beyond the conventional museum design – art galleries, exhibits, and gift shop. Her vision for the IMID, inspired by her own family’s diaspora story, centers on connecting people and the community to the cultures and human journey stories of the 123 countries of origin and distinct peoples into Idaho over the state’s history through cultural art, food, music, literature, film, photography, and more.

The IMID will offer Idahoans and the world an experience of a world class museum with programs and offerings that span outside the traditional role of museums. In additional to the exhibits of diaspora groups from around the world, the museum’s grand global gallery will host artworks of local, national, and international artists who represent the 123 cultures. Separate from the museum sector, the IMID’s international food district will offer an around-the-world theme food court, an innovative commercial kitchen to host cultural cooking classes, and a restaurant gallery with fine dining cultural restaurants. Additional elements of the IMID include a diaspora library, theater, and diaspora botanical garden.

Follow the IMID on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (@idahomid) for updates and developments. 

About Idaho Museum of International Diaspora

Founded in 2018 and established as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in 2019, the Idaho Museum of International Diaspora (IMID) is an innovative multipurpose approach to a traditional museum model. The IMID will highlight the lives of diaspora groups from within Idaho and around the world through art, food, culture, music, literature, film, and many more approaches that aim to engage the community to cultures. 

About University of Idaho College of Art and Architecture 

Delivering on the university’s land-grant mission, the College of Art and Architecture contributes to the well-being of statewide and global communities through innovative design education that safeguards sustainability, economic resiliency, cultural vibrancy and the common good.

About Cushing Terrell

Cushing Terrell was founded in 1938 on the belief that integrating architecture, engineering, and design opens doors for deepened relationships and enhanced creativity. Our team works together to design systems and spaces that help people live their best lives, achieve their visions, and enjoy healthy, sustainable built environments.

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Jason Butler

Cushing Terrell

“Watching the students develop design concepts based on the IMID’s vision has been an incredible experience. The academic exploration of listening, empathizing, imagining, and creating is always a wonderful process. This is reflective of how design happens in real life – a true collaboration between designers and the users they’re helping realize a vision for.”

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Dr. Shauna Corry
Dean, College of Art and Architecture

University of Idaho

“The College of Art and Architecture is greatly appreciative for this opportunity to collaborate with the Idaho Museum of International Diaspora (IMID) and Cushing Terrell on what will be a signature building in the state of Idaho and an intimate and personal home for the journeys, stories, and dreams of so many Idahoans. It has been a semester filled with imagining, learning, and great personal and professional growth, and I am proud of all our student and faculty efforts. Thank you to the IMID and Cushing Terrell teams.”


Dr. Palina Louangketh
Founder and Executive Director

Idaho Museum of International Diaspora

“Sharing the IMID journey during this initial phase with our legacy partners – Cushing Terrell and University of Idaho’s College of Art and Architecture – and the dedicated students of architecture and interior architecture and design has been a tremendous gift of hearts, talents, and expertise connected to diaspora cultures. Together, we explored and experimented with creative architecture and design approaches through innovative collaboration that will honor and celebrate diversity and foster a community of inclusiveness. Together, we will share the IMID with the world as the pioneers of the international diaspora museum movement.”

Our Partners



Idaho Office for Refugees 

a program by Jannus, Inc.

Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers

Vilayvanh Bender, RD, Award Winning Children’s Book Author

Nez Perce Tribe 

Tai Simpson 

Shoshone-Paiute Tribes

Claire Aca Manning-Dick

The Bosnian and Herzegovinian Cultural Center of Idaho

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