• New structure to enhance Pratt’s role as a center for arts, science and culture in the community
By Randi Somers
The Pratt Museum hosted afternoon and evening gatherings Thursday to present the design for the new building expected to be completed in 2014. The design incorporates many suggestions from residents.
Representing the Anchorage architect firm Livingston Slone, Joseph Abegg displayed schematics and drawings and explained the interior and exterior features of the new building to be constructed considerably southwest of the current museum.
The single-level structure will feature a room with an exterior deck for community gatherings and educational sessions that can be accessed separate from the main display gallery.
Other features include expanded gallery space with new, updated and rotating exhibits, expanded collections storage with state-of-the-art temperature and humidity control.
Abegg explained that temperature and moisture control are among the most important features provided by the new design because they are important in the preservation of works of art.
The energy-efficient building will house space for research, collections conservation and exhibit preparation, the popular marine aquaria room and wildlife cameras and be in full compliance with the Americans with Disability Act.
The flexible design allows for future additions, as well as a sliding wall that combines the reception area with the meeting room to accommodate large groups.
According to museum director Diane Converse, the existing building will be torn down and replaced by a boat pavillion for the museums’s historic vessels; a Bristol Bay double-ender and a whaling boat.
Converse said that, in order to meet current standards, building a new structure is more cost-effective than trying to renovate the structure, built in 1968.
The new layout of the museum’s 9.3 acres will include a portion of Woodard Creek, which currently flows in a tunnel under the back parking lot.
Converse said some people “don’t even know we have a creek.”
She added that the new building is 13,000 square feet, offering 2,500 more square feet than the old building.
Currently, the museum is working with the Corp of Engineers to have the area properly zoned.
“It’s in process,” she said. “We have a long checklist.”
She said the money is coming from major grants and many fundraising events, adding that $2,000 is in the fund so far.
The museum held a workshop for community input in March, allowing staff, community members and architects to discuss drafts of the design of the building’s interior and layout of the museum’s green space.
The site plan incorporates the open forest behind the buildings where the annual “Facing the Elements” art walk takes place.
The budget of $9.3 million is to fund all aspects of the project, including preliminary design work. Requests for construction phase bids are expected to be issued in early 2014. Last Thursday’s meetings were a culmination of input so far, an ending and a beginning.
“There are many more details to be decided,” Converse said. The basic design has been approved and the next stage is design development. “We’ll be fine tuning details such as lighting and floor covering,” she said and they’re still accepting suggestions from the public. Ideas can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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