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New buildings chalk up awards in 2010

  • Author: Mike Dunham
  • Updated: September 29, 2016
  • Published December 25, 2010

Dark, cold, wind and gloom bring the same thought to many Alaska minds at this time of year -- the basic survival necessity of shelter. Protection from the elements. "Four walls and a roof above," to quote Robert Service.

Some people have shelter on their minds all the time. Architects. This fall the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, AIA Alaska, announced its 2010 Design Awards, saluting what those in the profession deem to be the best building ideas in the 49th state to be completed this year.

For the most part, the judges went straight for some of the biggest and most prominent public construction projects in decades. All but two were in Anchorage. Perhaps that's no surprise -- a lot of time, talent and money went into these buildings, and it shows. The Anchorage Museum expansion project, for instance, was a finalist for an international prize.

But tucked among the high-ticket urban edifices were a few surprises; a school in the Bush, a humble musher's cabin, the remodel at a social service agency.

The jurors were thee members of AIA Portland (Ore.) and all were past presidents of that chapter: Douglas Benson, Nancy Merrymann and Stan Chesshir. Here are their picks and some of their remarks.


Martin Buser, Kathy Chapoton's "House for a Musher"

Architect: mayer sattler-smith llc.

The judges liked:

• The exterior entry spaces; "interesting in themselves, gave a great stage for the approach to the house."

• How the north-south and east-west "bars" of the house came together at the entrance to serve both as enclosure and to reveal the open interior views.

• "Perhaps unfairly, the setting of this house (near Big Lake) allowed for more freedom in the site plan and plan, which is one reason that this house is so compelling."

Anchorage Museum Transit Transfer Facility

Architect: Kumin Associates, Inc.

The judges liked:

• Its "respect" for the adjacent museum and park. The humble bus stop "didn't try to outdo either or call too much attention to itself."

• Its "impeccable" individual elements: triangular wood screens that catch light in different ways, the evening lighting that highlights the etched glass panels, the radiantly heated floor, etc.

• How each element of the structure was "raised far above pure function through inspired detailing, all the while showing great balance and restraint."

Anchorage Museum Expansion

Architect: David Chipperfield Architects and Kumin Associates, Inc.

The judges liked:

• The front facade, which "seems quite severe and minimalist in the photographs, but when lit from within -- as it so often is, the building glows."

• "The views from the building to the city and landscape beyond."

• "The carefully designed and highly successful glass skin."


Savoonga K-12 Hogarth Kingeekuk Sr. Memorial School

Architect: ECI/Hyer Architecture and Interiors

The judges liked:

• The use of the asymmetrical trusses to provide both utility and beauty. "Given the limitations and restriction of this site, this could have been a horrible structure."

• How it works as both a school and a community center/hub.

• The covered exterior entry/exit porches on each side of the building that use "a traditional architectural pole form to place it in its culture. We wished that somehow this expression could have even been expanded in other areas."

Conoco Phillips Integrated Science Building

Architect: ZGF Architects LLP and ECI/Hyer Architecture and Interiors, Inc.

The judges liked:

• The building's placement along one of the existing pedestrian paths on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. It "animates the building and gives the pedestrians a protected environment to get from one place to another on campus ... a nice thing during the long winters."

• The use of the slate shingles to "humanize the building's scale and feel."

• "It can be difficult to take a large building program like this and create something with an interesting character (but) this is very well done. This is a really strong project."

Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center

Architect: RIM Architects and LMN Architects

The judges liked:

• How it placed active uses on the most important street faces.

• How it took "great advantage of its location and stunning views to enliven the typically generic meeting and exhibition spaces."

• How the architects successfully created "a welcoming, vibrant building."

188 WNLB Mixed Use Tower

Architect: Bettisworth North Architects and Planners, and Ruffcorn Mott Hinthorne Stine

The judges liked:

• How it addresses the street and highlights its corner entrance successfully and with a very transparent facade

• "The overall massing of the podium creates an appropriately scaled street edge while also breaking the building down in its profile on the skyline" while "smaller, and more articulated, floor plates of the office tower help keep the scale and mass of the building interesting."

• How most spaces have access to natural light and great views from the C Street and Northern Lights Boulevard location. "So often, new office towers add nothing positive to the character of a city. This one does."

Linny Pacillo Parking Garage

Architect: kpb Architects

The judges liked:

• The diagonal "exterior expression of the metal panels at the parking decks" to add "movement and interest."

• The "detailed, textured paving pattern."

• "A very successful ground floor experience ... a place to linger rather than a blank garage to move quickly past. It is not easy to do a beautiful parking structure -- but this one manages to reach a very high level of design."

Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) Office Expansion and Renovation

Architect: RIM Design

The judges liked:

• The use of "uplifting" words, colors and lighting.

• A "clever" layout that takes full advantage of the "vistas" down hallways.

• "The color palette successfully navigates between being bold and warmly calming, a difficult task. We were imaging what many typical nonprofit and social service offices look like and loved that this design team created something dynamic and fun."

Find Mike Dunham online at or call 257-4332.

New Alaska architecture book

Julie Decker's latest book, "True North: New Alaskan Architecture" (Braun, $29.90), features beautiful color photos and floor plans of several of the more striking buildings constructed in Alaska over the past few years. It includes the Buser/Chapoton residence and several other Anchorage-area houses plus the B.P. Energy Center and Anchorage Museum expansion. Out-of-town buildings are represented by schools in rural Alaska and the Homer Library.


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