2012 was an exciting year for Alaska on the building front. Old buildings are getting new treatments that make them more efficient and even, in at least one case, mostly independent of fossil fuel. Buildings are being built that are using technology that is both new to Alaska and the United States, and existing buildings are being reborn into jazzy new structures built with a nod to centuries-old traditions.
Old is New Again
One way to be environmentally sustainable is by reusing what's available. To that end, design-build team Pfeffer Development, Criterion Construction and kbp architects worked with tenant NANA Regional Corp. to renovate the old Unocal building at 909 W. Ninth Ave. in downtown Anchorage.
Mike Prozeralik, president of kpb architects, says the building, built in 1969, was stripped down to concrete and steel. The design-build team collaborated with the NANA Development leaders to design an office building that meets their needs and work flow. NANA Development's communications group provided design inspiration so the finishing, materials, furniture and details reflect the Inupiaq culture and the NANA brand.
"We sat down with a number of their building committee members and talked about their organization and heritage," Prozeralik says. "At kpb architects, we listen first before we start our design exploration. Connecting with a client's culture helps move us to a design that truly represents who they are."
Prozeralik says his team studied garments and traditional sewing patterns, called qupak, used for parka trim. Three parka trim designs are integrated as a pattern in a large zinc wall behind the main-floor reception area. The wall connects the cultural history, through the stitching pattern, with NANA's present-day economic efforts, which include operating Red Dog Mine, the world's largest zinc mine.
One of the most noticeable new exterior features is the repeated use of the symbolic NANA arc, an umbrella which unifies NANA's companies and people. That motif is visible atop the building, with blue LED lights on the mechanical equipment penthouse. The building captures the 360-degree views of mountains, inlet and Anchorage skyline. A cantilevered section was added to the sixth-floor boardroom. It juts out from the rest of the building by a few feet, changing the architectural character of the building.
The glass exterior of the building was replaced with high-efficiency blue-tinted panels that reflect NANA's corporate color...