Tippet Rise "Daydreams"

Tippet Rise "Daydreams"

“The idea behind the structure is to emulate the tireless imagination of children while stuck in school and yearning to go outside as opposed to being still indoors.”

Chelsea Blahut, Architect Magazine


Little School on the Prairie:Engineering support for a sculptor’s artwork

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty’s “Daydreams” was the first large-scale “land art” installation built on the Tippet Rise Art Center’s 11,500-acre property – a panoramic outdoor music/performance/contemporary sculpture destination in the Big Sky State. The “Daydreams” sculpture resembles a rustic 18th Century schoolhouse interacting with nature and the land’s vastness. Masses of native sapling branches entwine and penetrate the roof to enter the interior space – transforming the structure into an organic presentation.
DCI+BCE Engineers designed the concrete foundation and wood framing system for the single-story schoolhouse. The project team conducted feasibility studies, calculated wall and snow load distributions, reviewed the roof truss framing plan, detailed connections, and provided construction support.

Project Highlights

  • The foundation consists of a 6” concrete slab on continuous footing that reaches frost depth.
  • The lateral system is composed of wood shear walls.
  • The sculpture was designed and constructed to maximize longevity against environmental elements, with plexiglass panels in some roof areas to allow light through the roof while exposing the roof framing.


  • AIA (Montana Chapter) Honorable Mention for Excellence in Design
Fishtail, MT
Square Feet: 
Primary Material: 
Sports & Recreation

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