Wanted: Capitol ideas Mayor solicits designs for new Juneau building

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2004

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho plans to present Alaska with a new capitol on Telephone Hill for its 50th birthday in 2009.

It won't be free, though. The mayor announced the projected cost at $100 million, and the state would pay to lease the building.

In Anchorage on Friday, Botelho and his Capitol Planning Commission announced a design competition for the new capitol.

"We need to have a symbol that celebrates democracy and is inviting to our citizens," Botelho said. "Having a new capitol will lend a degree of permanence in securing Juneau as the capital."

Botelho said he expects opposition to his plan. Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, and Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said in a written statement in October that they won't support any plan proposed by Botelho to build a new capitol.

Gatto has said there are higher funding priorities than building a new legislative hall in Juneau.

Botelho said he doesn't think $100 million is too expensive.

"What we are looking for is a quality building," Botelho said. "The lease might cost the state $6.5 to $7.5 million a year to pay off the debts. This is a small part of the state's annual budget."

The state now spends $30 million in leases statewide.

Maria Gladziszewski, special projects officer, said a new capitol is necessary because the existing one doesn't adequately serve the needs of today's representative government.

"The idea is to build democracy into the new capitol," Gladziszewski said.

Gladziszewski said the commission envisions a capitol that has sufficient public seating in chamber galleries, an unobstructed view from and of the floor and advanced teleconference and video-conference equipment.

Botelho said the project is likely to be funded by revenue bonds. The city will issue the bonds and the state's lease payment of the building will cover the bond debt. The lease would be structured to allow the state to own the building after bonds are paid.

Botelho stresses that the new capitol is for all Alaskans and that people can get involved in the process throughout the three stages of the design contest.

In the first stage from Friday to Dec. 9 people can apply to be on a competition jury. The jury will consist of nine members; seven Alaskans and two nationally recognized design professionals from outside Alaska. The jury will evaluate submitted portfolios and select up to eight potential lead designers based on their previous work.

The second stage of the competition, which runs through Jan. 11, requires the selected lead designers to form complete architecture and engineering teams and the jury will evaluate and interview them to select up to four finalists.

People who are not in the jury can submit their ideas to the Capitol Planning Commission before Jan. 12. The commission has created a Web site so people can either send their comments by regular mail or e-mail. The committee will compile all the ideas and give them to the final four architects.

In the third and final stage, teams submit their design concepts for the capitol in late January. Their design concepts will be displayed at public exhibits in several Alaska cities in mid-February. All the public input will be given to the jury to evaluate the designs. The jury will announce a winner March 2.

"We want to engage as many people as possible," Botelho said.

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