Juneau’s largest project in 43 years, the Father Andrew P.
Kashevaroff Library, Archives and Museum, promises to bring to life the
community’s heritage and history dating back to the turn of the 19th century. At
118,000 square feet, and after almost 15 years of planning and construction,
the project is celebrating its grand opening one year before the 150th
anniversary of the Alaska Purchase.
The Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Library,
Archives and Museum is Juneau’s largest project
in 43 years.
The dramatic high-ceilinged lobby
includes an eagle tree.
The atrium features a giant detailed
map of Russia and Alaska made of
A LOOK INSIDE
On first entering the building, visitors are transported
into Alaska’s history through the atrium, a dramatic high-ceilinged lobby that
includes an eagle tree and a giant detailed map of Alaska made of terrazzo. The
exhibit hall doors open to a complete history of Alaska’s origins. There are areas
devoted to the native people of Alaska, exploration of the 49th state, resource
extraction, maritime history, World War II and political history,
transportation, and modern Alaska. “From the very beginning of man’s inhabitancy
until now” is one of the overarching themes of the exhibit floor.
Perhaps one of the most dramatic places in the building is
the Richard Foster Reading Room, which includes a soaring wood ceiling and sprawling
windows overlooking the town and mountains. The library’s research area is
shared with the archives department and contains official government document
records dating back to 1884, photographs, and audiovisual material. Here
visitors can request material from the Historical Collections department of the
“Much of the project
success can be attributed to one word . . . communication,” said Bob Banghart,
deputy director of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums for the
State of Alaska. “Combine that with a highly motivated team and a level of
cooperative and creative problem solving, and the overall project has exceeded
everyone’s expectations. Having PCL at the table with the owner and design team
had a significant impact on bringing desire and delivery into balance.”
With the new museum being constructed on the same ground as
the original museum, the team was presented with the challenge of how to
preserve existing artifacts during construction. The team developed a phasing
plan for construction of two secure vault spaces—each about 10,000 square-feet—to
store the artifacts until the museum section was constructed. After the vaults
were complete, a temporary tunnel was built to allow moving of the 32,000
artifacts into the secured vaults during the harsh Alaskan winter prior to
demolition of the old museum.
During different stages of construction, it became apparent
that certain artifacts couldn’t be moved into the new museum after completion, owing
to their size. The project team took these extraordinary pieces into account
and built large sections of the new museum around the artifacts, ensuring that certain
temperatures, humidity levels, and thresholds were maintained during active
construction. One particular artifact they had to build around was an umiak 40
feet in length, a boat made of walrus skin stretched over a driftwood frame. Not
only did the project require the first use of a tower crane in Juneau in an
estimated 30 years, but it is the only known time an umiak has been moved using
a tower crane.
“It was very rewarding to be a part of a project that was
much more than just bricks and sticks,” said Tyler Kautz, construction manager
in Seattle. “There was an amazing vibe in the community surrounding the
project, and the project means so much to the people of Southeast Alaska. The
excitement was evident everywhere you went.”
With the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Library, Archives
and Museum celebrating its grand opening on June 6, 2016, the overall vision hasn’t
changed since day one, to develop and maintain a state-of-the-art facility that
collects and manages the care of objects and documents representing the peoples
and history of Alaska while telling their story in their own voices.