Nine architectural jurors are in Juneau poring over portfolios to choose among the applicants to design a new capitol for Alaska.
Ed Feiner, chief architect of the U.S. General Services Administration, said he chose the jury assignment over a meeting in Miami.
"This is a remarkable opportunity to get involved in a building that will represent the aspirations, hopes and dreams of the people of Alaska," said Feiner, who has participated in more than 40 national architectural design competitions. He is one of the two jurors who are not Alaskans but were chosen for their design expertise.
Wednesday and today, Feiner and eight other jurors are reviewing 43 applicant firms. The jury will select eight to enter the second stage of the competition. Eventually they will narrow the field to four teams.
Donald Stastny, adviser and manager of the capitol design competition, said he was amazed by the high quality of the applicants, who are from as far as Norway and Mexico.
"It's like Lake Wobegon," said Stastny, referring to the fictional American town created by National Public Radio host Garrison Keillor. "Everything is way above average. It's a matter of looking for the best of the best."
Each of the portfolios includes an introductory letter, a statement of design intent, five previous projects and a list of architectural firms that the designer has worked with.
"Each portfolio tells a story about a person," Stastny said. "If they tell the right story, they will rise to the top of the pile."
Stastny encouraged jurors to focus on the statement of design intent in the portfolios.
"You can tell if the statement is written by a designer or a marketing person," Stastny said. "If it's written by a designer, you can feel the passion and commitment."
Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho wants to dedicate the new capitol on the 50th anniversary of statehood on Jan. 3, 2009
Feiner said building a capitol is an appropriate way to mark Alaska's golden anniversary.
"A capitol is more permanent than a fireworks display or a big birthday party," Feiner said. "You are building not just for your generation but also for your children and their children after them."
I-Chun Che can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.