Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:49 PM on Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Museum releases schematic design for new building

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Illustration provided

The schematic design phase of the new Pratt Museum, looking toward the east.

At an informal reception last Thursday, the Pratt Museum released the schematic design for its new 13,000-square-foot building. The latest design phase includes a general floor plan, exterior perspectives and a site plan. Most significant, the design now includes a detailed illustration of the exterior — a tool museum fund raisers can use to get potential donors excited about the new building.

"It gets the big concept on paper, which is what we needed to do," said museum director Diane Converse.

The schematic design shows:

• Detailed east, west, north and south perspectives;

• A detailed floor plan showing the relationship between the gallery, the museum shop, a community and education room, office space, mechanical space, and the collections area; and

• Phase 1 and phase 2 site plans.

With a simple cross-gable roof design, the latest version keeps some elements of earlier concepts, such as the string of trusses holding up an overhang that architect Joe Abegg said was inspired by the rigging on commercial fishing boats. Abegg and Tom Livingston, of the Anchorage firm Livingston Slone, are the primary architects for the new building.

A projecting shed roof at the top to hold mechanical elements, and another gable roof perpendicular to the main roof, break up the lines of the main roof. Covered atriums on the east and south sides provide outdoor meeting and waiting space with some protection from snow and rain. The south porch connects to another feature of the new building, a 50-seat community room that can be closed off from the 5,000-square-foot gallery for after-hours events.

The museum board and staff last year decided to build a new museum instead of remodeling and renovating the existing 10,500-square-foot building. The current building is on three levels while the new building will be one level, including office space, making compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements easier. The new building also will comply with national museum standards for things like humidity levels. New construction makes it easier to move collections and keep the old building open while construction happens.

"The beauty of the new building — we'll be able to construct it and move the art work and collection over there," Abegg said.

Two site plans show what the area will look like after the new museum is built and the second phase, when the old building has been removed and Woodard Creek, a creek now running underneath a parking lot, is exposed. The final site plan shows parking on the north side of the lot toward Spruceview Avenue, with entrances on Spruceview and on Bartlett Street. The botanical garden and the Harrington Homestead Cabin will remain roughly in their current locations, with walking paths around them. The new museum is near the site of the current shop, where this summer Lee Post has been directing the articulation of a gray whale skeleton.

That skeleton also will have a new home in the museum, hanging inside underneath the shed-roof bump-out that houses mechanical elements. Rafters supporting ventilation units and other machines also will be used to suspend the whale skeleton.

The total project cost of the new building, including planning, site preparation and permitting, is $9.5 million. About $2 million in funding from private donors, government support and foundation grants has already been raised, Converse said.

Construction is expected to start in 2014. The next phase of the project is the design-development phase, when final details like mechanical and engineering are done, followed by the a construction document and plan, what contractors will use to bid on the project and build it.

The Pratt Museum is in the process of replatting its 9-acre site, now in three lots, into one large lot. The building has been designed to adhere to the strictest zoning classification depending on how the city replats the lot and which zoning district the new lot follows under, Converse said. The building also will comply with the city's large-building design code. As a private building, the new museum doesn't have to comply with city 1-percent for art rules, but the building will solicit public art proposals and incorporate public art in its design, Converse said.

For more information on the project, including illustrations and drawings, visit www.prattmuseum.org.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.