Local News

Centennial Hall architects want to hear from you

The design team behind the renovation of Sitka’s Harrigan Centennial Hall are in town this week, and they want to know what you want from the building.

Architect Garrett Burtner and interior designer Cathy Kerr of the Anchorage-based firm McCool Carlson Green, are looking for community feedback as they complete work on the Centennial Hall redesign. The pair participated in focus groups yesterday (Tues 2-18-14), covering the museum, landscaping, visitor experience, conventions, performances and food service. Today (Wed 2-19-14), focus groups will look at interior design, displays, meetings and assemblies.

The focus groups are all open to the public, and the Burtner and Kerr said they hope people will participate, because they are looking for the kind of fine-grained detail you only get when you’ve actually used the building.

“Let’s say we’re looking at a meeting room,” Burtner said. “People may say, I meet here with my quilting group, and we want to put some things up on the wall, but we’re always told we can’t put tacks in the wall, or there’s really no way to hang stuff without tape sticking to the wall…those little things that can be less of an obstruction for people using the building.”

“Or things like display lighting for different types of exhibits,” Kerr said. “Different types of furniture…We want to make sure that we accommodate all of those needs, as well as build in some flexibility, so that as needs change over time, the facility is still meeting the needs of the community.”

Burtner was also the project architect for the redesign of Sitka’s Pacific High School. He said that that experience has helped him on the current project.

“Architecture, for me it has to be really connected to the people that use it,” Burtner said. “So I think just learning a bit of the nature of the Sitka community and meeting individuals has helped me to feel more comfortable and understand the values and really the level of investment of people in Sitka. You have a beautiful place, and it’s clear that everybody wants to keep it beautiful and improve it. Now, what that means can be different for everybody, and that’s what we try to sort out.”

Burtner said the project is at “about 35% design.” Much of the exterior is set, as are the general outlines of most spaces inside, but the interior is still being planned. Burtner said he hopes to have the design completed by this fall, and a contractor on board and preparing to break ground by early 2015.

All focus groups will be held in the Exhibit Room at Centennial Hall. For more information, you can check the project’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/HarriganCentennialHall.

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