A Physical Manifestation of Democracy
Alaska is the only state without a building designed specifically to serve as a capitol. When asked to consider the problem of the architecture of its state capitol, we viewed it as an opportunity to investigate the thresholds of perception in relation to the historical dome. The result is a translation of the archetypal statehouse that strives for a meaningful and evocative manifestation of the historical dome articulated within contemporary language, one that is accessible but relevant, familiar but challenging. The Alaska State Capitol draws upon the doubled structure of Brunelleschi’s Duomo (1436) and Boullée’s Cenotaph for Newton (1784), which completes the dome as a sphere to mirror the universe. From these we devise an oscillating double elliptoid meant to suggest our understanding the world as dynamic, not static. An inner dome is set off-axis within an upright, fixed elliptoid, with habitable space in between. Despite the change in form, the capitol achieves a vibrant, contemporary authenticity that honors the legacy of its antecedents with respect rather than imitation.