This rendering shows what the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Bay Marine Station. The building is pictured on a typical Juneau day. (Courtesy of University of Alaska Southeast)

This rendering shows what the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Bay Marine Station. The building is pictured on a typical Juneau day. (Courtesy of University of Alaska Southeast)

Auke Bay lab set to be demolished this fall

UAS will build new facility to house natural sciences building, aiming for 2020 completion

Correction: An earlier version of this article ran with a photo of buildings that will not be demolished. The buildings shown were actually acquired by the City and Borough of Juneau, not the University of Alaska Southeast. The article has been changed to include the photo of the correct building.

The Auke Bay lab formerly owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to be demolished this fall, making room for a new, more modern lab to be used by the University of Alaska Southeast.

According to a posting on the State of Alaska website, the state is now accepting bids for the demolition of the old lab. Bids will be open until 2 p.m. Aug. 9, the posting states, and the demolition process could begin by Sept. 15.

UAS Vice Chancellor for Administration Michael Ciri said in an interview Thursday that the timeline for building the new lab is “aggressive,” and that he hopes the building will have students in it by the fall 2020 semester. The plan, he said, is to make a building where all the natural sciences can be together.

Ciri said the idea of consolidating the natural sciences offices and labs has been on the table since the university’s 2012 master plan was released. They were still thinking about how to do that when the NOAA lab went up for sale a few years later.

“We couldn’t imagine that NOAA property would become available,” Ciri said.

The City and Borough of Juneau and UAS were both attempting to buy the land, and the two sides reached an agreement in August 2017 to split the property. CBJ is using its part of the property to improve Don D. Statter Harbor at Auke Bay with enhanced moorage and a larger breakwater.

[City, university splitting former NOAA lab]

The current NOAA lab, Ciri said, was built in the 1950s and is not very energy efficient. Employing the help of outside building specialists, the university did studies about whether it would be more cost-efficient to renovate the building or simply tear it down and start over again. The conclusion was to build the new facility.

According to design documents available on the UAS website, the project is expected to cost $13 million. Half of that money is from a loan from the overall University of Alaska system. About $2 million of the funding comes from the university’s sale of its former bookstore, located just by the harbor. Other funding sources include leftover money from other projects, the UAS operating budget and a fund specifically kept for funding large projects like this.

“It’s an interesting thing because conventional wisdom says, ‘Budgets are tight, why would you think about doing this now?’ Part of this is you need to be innovative,” Ciri said. “If you wait until everything looks rosy, you’re going to be late on the dime.”

The sale of the bookstore and the consolidation of natural sciences facilities fit together into the university’s overall plan of becoming more efficient, Ciri said. He said the university will cut down its property by about 18,000 square feet over the next couple years with moves like this to make the campus more efficient.

Ciri said the university is open to talk with philanthropic or private donors about naming rights, and university officials are brainstorming ways to make the facility more open to the public.

The building itself, according to renderings made public by the university, is expected to have a modern look with a good amount of natural light. Ciri laughed as he said he appreciated that the artist’s renderings of the final product were set on cloudy days.

Even with Juneau’s weather cutting down on visibility, Ciri said the location of the new building is tough to beat.

“It’s really going to be one of the best views in town,” Ciri said.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


This rendering shows what the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Bay Marine Station. The building is pictured on a typical Juneau day. (Courtesy of University of Alaska Southeast)

This rendering shows what the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Bay Marine Station. The building is pictured on a typical Juneau day. (Courtesy of University of Alaska Southeast)

More in Home

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

Most Read