SENIOR WALK – Sitka High School seniors walk through the halls of Xoots Elementary School wearing their graduation attire this morning as they are congratulated by students. The seniors walked through the halls of both elementary schools and the middle school this morning. Seventy-four seniors will be graduating in the ceremony which begins 7 p.m. tonight in the school gym. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

More Public Input Sought on Airport Design


Sentinel Staff Writer

With construction about to begin on the $40 million expansion of the Sitka airport terminal, the architects on the project will be looking for more ideas and opinions from Sitkans on the interior design.

At Tuesday’s Assembly meeting City Engineer Michael Harmon and Anchorage architect Garrett Burtner reported on the Phase I construction that will start this fall, and ways the public can be involved in the planning.

 A computer rendering shows the second floor of the planned airport expansion. (Image provided)

The project will nearly double the size of the terminal, adding a second story, expanding the TSA baggage screening area, and providing separate passenger arrival and departure areas. The present terminal was built in 1969 and expanded in the late 1980s.

“We’ve completed some key milestones,” Harmon told the Assembly. Those include establishing a funding plan for the project, most of it covered by grants from the FAA and TSA, and a revenue bond funded by passenger facility charges.

“We’re feeling pretty good that the money is coming, it’s just a matter of when that actually gets secured and in (finance director) Melissa Haley’s hands, so we can we really can start on construction,” Harmon said. “We’ve done everything we can to position ourselves for an October start date, but funding sort of has a life of its own to get all the ducks in a row ....”

Burtner, principal architect with MCG Explore Design of Anchorage, reviewed Phase I of the project, and discussed how his firm plans to incorporate ideas from the 377 responses received in the city’s request for ideas from the public.

The public ranked Sitka the “most scenic and beautiful city in Alaska” as a key differentiator, followed by “authenticity: genuine character of the city,” Burtner said.

In the “image selection ranking,” the most popular images were a whale in front of the Mt. Edgecumbe volcano, hikers in the alpine, a view of Katlian Street from across the channel, a totem pole in the park, and a seine boat as viewed from above.

“The natural beauty of the place, the way that the city interacts with that natural beauty, cultural resources, and the maritime adventures/ fishing industry were highly ranked,” Burtner said.

He said designers plan to “help inform the project” with a storyline found on the Visit Sitka website:

“Sitka is an island community boldly living between the mountains and sea, where the arts flourish and an ancient Native culture still thrives. Surrounded by rainforest, we share our home with the brown bears, bald eagles and all five species of pacific salmon. In Sitka, we are deeply connected to the natural world around us. It informs our culture and inspires our art. This is Sitka. The place where wilderness and culture collide.”

Immediate plans are to post signs at the airport about the upcoming construction work, and ways the public can weigh in on the design. MCG Explore Design plans to send out a followup design survey this fall on interior thematic imagery (mural photos), and Phase II exterior.

Burtner said designers will be referring to three “design touch points” in their planning.

“The aesthetic informed by the natural environment, a theme of maritime adventures, and then when we are working on signage – way-finding and artwork – cultural heritage and history,” he said.

Burtner showed the Phase I plans for the two-story additions to the building, which will house the passenger screening and holding areas. A passenger bridge will connect to the jetway, located over the new baggage makeup room.

Phase II will be the renovation of the existing terminal. Burtner said MCG Explore Design is still in the design development phase.

He also showed floor plans and artistic renderings of what the interiors might look like. Citizens are being invited to say which images they would like to see in the interior, and where they would like them placed.

“Upstairs, there is a more vaulted space, more natural elements,” the architect said. The building will have an escalator to the second level as well as an elevator and stairs. A monitor window will add natural light to the space. Plans are still in the works on furniture and vendor spaces.

Near the end of the presentation Harmon said he’s been asked about how the building additions will be incorporated into the existing terminal design. 

“One of my best examples is the transformation we’ve done on this building, which Garrett was the architect on,” Harmon said. “When we go in, we can do you a really good job to integrate the new with the old so when you walk in like you’re in a brand new building throughout. It all ties together and matches well, especially from the interior. ... You should feel homey space that ties together just like this building.”

He said he doesn’t anticipate much activity on the project through the winter and spring, but things “will get a little more exciting” later in the year with construction of the baggage addition.

“I’m not saying it’ll be easy but we have a plan that we feel good, that it will work,” Burtner said.

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May 2004

Dr. Arthur Cleveland, a former dean at Columbus State University in Georgia, was named the new president of Sheldon Jackson College, SJC officials announced today. He will be replacing C. Carlyle Haaland, who has held the position for four years.


May 1974

Coaching and managing the Little League teams this year are John Abbott and John Calhoun, ANB; Dale and DeWayne Vilandre, Alaska Federal; Walt Barker, Elks; Frank Simmons and Frank Vilandre, Lions; Leo Bacon, Pat Ness, Cliff Robards and Bob Edenso, Moose; and Everett Webb, Sportsmen. Head umpire is Carl Karpstein.


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