Don't call capitol design un-Alaskan

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ben Madison's indictment of the capitol design competition (letters to the editor, March 7) and those involved is unfair, inaccurate, and unfortunately indicative of the buzz around this venture. Like every Alaskan, he is entitled to his opinion on the designs. But in requesting a log cabin capitol he and others have unwittingly stumbled onto the very core of the debate with which the design is faced.

How do we build "in line with the history of [a] state," as he proposes, that is only 46 years old? This is especially difficult when one considers that this building would likely last 150 to 200 years. And in line with whose history, Russian Alaska, Native Alaskan, European settlers as a log cabin capitol would suggest?

I am very pleased with the design team that the jury has chosen and thankful for the work that the planning committee has done to facilitate such widespread discussion over what a capitol can be. Some like myself would much prefer a contemporary symbol that is simultaneously inspired by both historical precedent and the future. Historically, this state is about vision. It is trite to dismiss the design as un-Alaskan, and I encourage all residents of this state to take a closer look at the evolution of the design as will be unveiled later this month. Recognize the challenge and the opportunity at hand. Put yourselves in the project, and then after you have considered these, get involved and help this state to define what Alaskan architecture can be.

Peter Warren


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