Monthly Archives: March 2008

google maps

An article in today’s Anchorage Daily News notes that Google just added maps of Anchorage and Fairbanks a couple days ago. Try typing in an address and you can tour the streets looking through their ‘360 degree camera’. Neat.

new mt view branch library

Check it out! This is the new Mt View Branch Library, seen here in a perspective rendering by MCG Architects. The same architect doing the new Clark Middle School adjacent. The part of the building on the right is an existing building that’s been the home of the Muncipal Dept. of Parks and Recreation since 1989. Before that, for a few years there was a branch library there. Soon it will be a library again. The tall portion in the middle contains the new entrance, lobby, restrooms and mechanical space, and on the left hand side is a brand new community meeting room. There’s a second entrance on the opposite side, facing the school and some large windows in the back off the meeting room looking at a lawn and landscaped garden area, including a reading circle.
Susanne Fleek, Project Manager for the Municipality, presented the revised design concept at the March Community Council meeting, and reported that construction will begin soon and will likely be finished by the end of 2008. Both public funds and substantial private donations were combined to fund the $2.3 million project. They are still looking for donations for materials, and anyone who desires may donate books directly through amazon dot com.
Former Anchorage mayor Tom Fink closed the Mt View branch and three other branches in 1989. I won’t go into how I feel about that era — suffice to say, in many ways Anchorage barely survived it. Although MOA operated a branch of sorts in part of the old Clark school from the mid-’90s until recently, there really wasn’t much there beyond a couple shelves of books.
I can’t wait to see the new branch. A great accomplishment and victory for the community.

trailer art center forges ahead!

The Trailer Art Center and MTS Gallery have nearly finalized their 2008 season of exhibits and performances. There will be a First Friday Open/Close performance piece by Corinna Delgado on April 4th to kick off the ’08 season. And an opening every third Friday and performance every third Friday of each month for all of the rest of 2008, plus a few special events.
Last week, as part of a feasibility study toward expansion/construction of a new and improved TAC, representatives from three successful arts organizations, AS220 in Providence, RI; Artspace; and LINC — together with two people from the University of Alaska Anchorage Economic Development Center — convened in a series of discussions with TAC administrators, artists and the Mt View community to talk about the future of TAC/MTS. I’ll come back here in a few days and write more thoroughly about the site visit and the progress of the feasibility study.

aurora square

Ron and Marlene Bateman, and Tamas Deak, the designer/developers of this new east Anchorage condo project appeared at the March Mt View Community Council meeting. MVCC President Don Crandall thought it would be interesting to see what some others in the area were doing in multifamily housing that was different than what’s commonly out there, and also to have a chance to ask those guys what they thought of the potential for multifamily housing in Mt View.

Their project will have 29 units in four buildings, the buildings pushed to the edge of the square site with an expansive common area in the middle. There is what I’d call a very formal and rational division of public and private space — all of the area on the ground is shared, and the entire roof area above each three story unit is accessible for use as a private yard. And the roof is structured to hold a hot tub, a small crowd of people, patio furniture and containerized gardens. All a little strange and unfamiliar for most Anchorites.

I’ve seen this sort of approach work really well. An architect friend of mine in Fairbanks has a really good example of this kind of a garden on her deck [photo below].

The Batemans and Deak didn’t have a lot to suggest for Mt View — noting, as everyone does that development might be tougher here because property values are depressed compared to most of the rest of Anchorage. But they suggested we should keep an eye on potential sites, and somehow try to guide development to the selected sites in the future. Exactly how to go about that isn’t too clear.
The crowd at the MVCC meeting was a little tough on them — one guy even suggesting they have all the ingredients there for a future ghetto! Judging from the people who have bought in to their project thus far [a lot of them local designers and artists] I don’t think it will play out that way.
I’ve known Ron and Tamas for awhile but I don’t say this to repay any favors — but I hope this project succeeds and it works to raise the bar. One of the regretful aspects of the last few years is that, while Anchorage has grown its quality of new housing is still lacking.

Aurora Square is near the NW corner of Northern Lights and Boniface, just west of the Value Village store.