Alaska State Capitol Design Competition



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.

Posted: Apr 3rd, 2009 / Last Edited: Jun 1st, 2010 Print

Description

  • Conceived as a gift framed by its majestic Juneau site, this new Capitol Building will communicate to this and future generations what it is to be uniquely Alaskan. The building will synthesize iconic and contemporary elements to provide Alaska with a celebrated landmark and destination. Building upon the architectural legacy of American Capitols, our design proposes a contemporary interpretation of the Statehouse, in its organization and forms and through its most recognizable icon, the Dome. This Capitol will transform Juneau’s skyline and provide a unifying symbol for Alaska that exudes confidence, transparency and accessibility.

    The new Capitol will draw Alaska’s scattered and diverse populations together. Citizens in all parts of the state will participate in government from their home communities through the placement of videoconferencing equipment in the House and Senate Chambers, the Governor’s Office, the Rotunda, the Mall of Alaska and the Public Forum. The Capitol will be perceived as a communal resource that, along with the abundant shared natural resources of the State, defines and shapes the unique identity and pride of each Alaskan.

    The new Capitol Campus encourages democracy by providing a myriad of easily accessible public spaces designed to extend the opportunity for interaction beyond the formal spaces of the legislative chambers. The Governor’s office directly overlooks the Public Forum, a ceremonial arrival space that connects the Capitol to Juneau’s surrounding urban fabric and provides a setting for public discourse, whether it be for demonstrations, speeches or media interviews. Additional opportunities for public assembly and communal activities are found in the Mall of Alaska which is enclosed by the Capitol, the State Office Building and Court Plaza Building. Other important public meeting places exist in the Rotunda, the Café in the Dome, and through easily readable circulation routes, lounges, and public amenities inside the Capitol.
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  • Conceived as a gift framed by its majestic Juneau site, this new Capitol Building will communicate to this and future generations what it is to be uniquely Alaskan. The building will synthesize iconic and contemporary elements to provide Alaska with a celebrated landmark and destination. Building upon the architectural legacy of American Capitols, our design proposes a contemporary interpretation of the Statehouse, in its organization and forms and through its most recognizable icon, the Dome. This Capitol will transform Juneau’s skyline and provide a unifying symbol for Alaska that exudes confidence, transparency and accessibility.

    The new Capitol will draw Alaska’s scattered and diverse populations together. Citizens in all parts of the state will participate in government from their home communities through the placement of videoconferencing equipment in the House and Senate Chambers, the Governor’s Office, the Rotunda, the Mall of Alaska and the Public Forum. The Capitol will be perceived as a communal resource that, along with the abundant shared natural resources of the State, defines and shapes the unique identity and pride of each Alaskan.

    The new Capitol Campus encourages democracy by providing a myriad of easily accessible public spaces designed to extend the opportunity for interaction beyond the formal spaces of the legislative chambers. The Governor’s office directly overlooks the Public Forum, a ceremonial arrival space that connects the Capitol to Juneau’s surrounding urban fabric and provides a setting for public discourse, whether it be for demonstrations, speeches or media interviews. Additional opportunities for public assembly and communal activities are found in the Mall of Alaska which is enclosed by the Capitol, the State Office Building and Court Plaza Building. Other important public meeting places exist in the Rotunda, the Café in the Dome, and through easily readable circulation routes, lounges, and public amenities inside the Capitol.

    Designed to promote community, the Capitol will give Juneau a new symbolic center. At its heart is the Rotunda, a unifying space that houses the state’s treasured emblems and ceremonies. Rising more than 150 feet, the Dome’s glazed interior will be etched with words from the State’s Constitution, making ever-present the very principles and social contract on which the state was founded. A Café, perched between the Dome’s inner and outer skins, will be accessible to all. The richness of the great land of Alaska will be evoked through a glistening interior that will collect light from outside while providing views of the towering summit of Mt. Juneau. When the Capitol is closed, the Capitol Passage—a space that passes through the Rotunda and transforms an existing tunnel into a commemorative processional, will be open, making the Rotunda omnipresent and central to life in downtown Juneau. The passage’s glowing walls will tell the story of the state’s history through words, imagery and embedded artifacts.

    The new Capitol will tread lightly on the land. Optimized for compactness and access to views, it is shaped and sited to preserve existing views from adjacent buildings. It will serve its users well through its avoidance of snow shedding, lack of unnecessary shading and attention to details appropriate to a well functioning northern building. The Capitol will embrace environmental stewardship through its use of efficient heating and cooling systems, maximum use of natural daylight and fresh air, efficient and humane lighting, and responsible choices of materials. For future generations of Alaskans, this iconic and technologically advanced building will be seen as a model of a sound public investment strategy that results in long term actual and symbolic benefits to society.

    This Capitol celebrates Alaska. To the legislators and the Governor the material palette of native Alaskan woods and stone will provide a daily reminder of the diversity, the breadth and the majesty of the state they represent. In inclement weather an enclosed sky-lit walkway featuring niches filled with Alaskan art and artifacts will connect the Capitol to the State Office Building. When weather permits, the Mall of Alaska will provide a welcoming movement space from which to take in the extraordinary views of Juneau. In response to the site’s climate and geography, the skin of the Capitol is designed to reflect precious light, making it particularly beautiful in rain and mist. Visible from cruise ships, the Capitol will beckon to visitors. In the long and often foggy dark of winter, the dome of the Capitol will glow as a beacon of the hopes and aspirations of Alaska’s people and the majesty and bounty of its land.
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Details

Location:
Juneau, Alaska, United States of America
Client:
City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska
Site Area:
4.9 acres / 2.0 hectares
Size:
174,000 gross sq ft / 16,165 gross sq m
Program:
State capitol building with offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, Senate, House of Representatives, Legislative Affairs Agency, and public gathering spaces
Design:
2005
Type:
  • Governmental

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