Capitol panel makes 1st cut

Eight firms have month to assemble design, cost and engineering teams

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2004

After sifting 43 portfolios, a jury selected eight architectural firms from all over the world to continue on to the second stage of the design competition for a new capitol.

The eight design firms are Fentress Bradburn Architects Ltd. (Denver, Co.); Saucier + Perrotte Architects (Montreal); studioAlaska + 1 (Fairbanks, Alaska, and Oslo, Norway); Moshe Safdie and Associates (Somerville, Mass.); Morphosis Architects (Santa Monica, Ca.); Perkins + Will (Chicago); NBBJ (Seattle) and Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design (Los Angeles).

Competition adviser Donald Stastny said the jury picked "the best of the best."

Perkins + Will was named the 1999 Firm of the Year by the American Institute of Architects and recently completed the design for the Los Angeles federal courthouse. Norwegian architect Stein Halvorsen, who designed the Sami Parliament building in Karasjok, Norway, will be the co-lead designer of studioAlaska + 1.

Three of the eight teams are associated with Alaska architectural firms.

StudioAlaska + 1 includes architects from Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Ketchikan.

"We are all familiar with each other through the state chapter of American Institute of Architects," said architect Gerald Gotschall of Juneau. "We knew the project was on the horizon and decided to organize a team."

Robert Minch, principal architect of Minch Ritter Voelckers Planning and Architecture, said Fentress Bradburn Architects, a Colorado firm, contacted his firm to express interest in collaboration. Minch's firm has worked on the new high school in Mendenhall Valley, Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School and renovations of the Alaska State Museum.

"It's a challenging and exciting opportunity," Minch said. "The selection process was very steep. Normally it is one out of 10. This is eight out of 43."

Minch said the difficult part is to know what their clients, the Alaska people, want.

The eight design teams will have one month to put together a team of professionals with expertise in design, engineering and cost estimating.

The jury will interview the eight teams in January and select four of them to enter the final phase of the competition. The four teams' designs will go on a statewide tour in February. The final winning team will be chosen in March.

Gotschall said he is optimistic about the project, but he is concerned about whether the Alaska Legislature will support it.

"We are hoping that if we put out a good show, it will help people realize that we are serious," Gotschall said.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at

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