Challenger Center Phase II ready for lift off

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Phase II of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is almost complete and operational. Last week Kenai Mayor John Williams, Challenger Center Board President, and Board member Gary Turner, KPC Director, made a final walk through inspection with the architects of Klauder & Company that took the vision for the center and made it a reality.

Designing the Challenger Learning Center was a unique opportunity for architects Peter Klauder and Dave Moore, "It was the chance of a lifetime that I never expected. I love living in a small town and chose to move to Alaska like so many of us who love the rural lifestyle, and to have the opportunity to work on a futuristic building like this and the vision that came with it was an absolute joy," said Klauder. According to Klauder one of the best parts was watching his young daughter fly a mission, rise to the challenges of the mission and come home with a sparkle in her eye that he'd never seen before.

Phase II of the Challenger Center will facilitate Space Camps and includes dormitory facilities, a gigantic classroom and banquet hall that seats nearly 200 people, and a hands-on workshop. Klauder said the space motif of the new facility was modeled after the International Space Station. The construction team was also inspired according to Klauder; "G&S Construction has done a fantastic job for us and really gone above and beyond as have virtually all of our sub-contractors." Klauder's partner Dave Moore commented, "You do a lot buildings that are not so inspiring like warehouses, but this is the type of project that reminds you why you became an architect to begin with."

For Kenai Mayor John Williams, President of the Challenger Board of Directors, it was the day he had envisioned many years ago, "The Board of Directors has worked very hard to get to this point, and we are confident that the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska will be a center piece here on the Kenai Peninsula for years to come," commented Williams. In the past kids that have traveled great distances to fly a mission at the Center and have required overnight stays. "In the past we have slept thousands of kids on the floors at the original Center, but now we have a safe, secure area to stay overnight," added Williams.

It's hoped that Alaska's own astronaut Bill Offelien will be able to attend a grand opening ceremony sometime in mid July, and Williams intends on inviting the public to an ice cream social and walk through tour of the new facility. "There is no other facility in the state of Alaska like this, of the 51 Challenger Centers in operation across the United States, Canada, and Europe, we believe our Center is truly the finest of them all and a model for others in the future," said Williams.

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