The project manager for the Centennial Hall ballroom renovation, Lisa Eagan-Lagerquist, points out new features of the ballroom set to open its doors again for the first time on Saturday after nearly nine months under construction. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The project manager for the Centennial Hall ballroom renovation, Lisa Eagan-Lagerquist, points out new features of the ballroom set to open its doors again for the first time on Saturday after nearly nine months under construction. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Centennial Hall ballroom opening back up with a new look

Saturday marks the first event since its closure in December for renovations.

The Centennial Hall ballroom is set to open its doors again for the first time on Saturday with a fresh new look after nearly nine months under construction.

The major renovation project, which began in December of last year, is the ballroom’s first comprehensive renovation since it first opened its doors in the early 1980s. The renovations are isolated to just the ballroom — not the entire building — and include cosmetic changes like new floors and partitions, new audio and video equipment, and new lighting and paint. There are also safety and efficiency upgrades like updating the ballroom’s structural frame, and adding new power upgrades to support the mechanical systems like new air source heat pumps.

A broom and garbage bin sits in the middle of the newly renovated Centennial Hall. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A broom and garbage bin sits in the middle of the newly renovated Centennial Hall. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

[Ballroom blitz: Centennial Hall space takes on a new look amid closure for renovations]

According to Lisa Eagan-Lagerquist, the project’s manager, the construction and electrical crew worked nearly every day since its closure to complete the project on time, and now are excited to finally share its new features with the Juneau community. She said some of the new additions — like six new heat pumps — means more energy efficiency for the building as a whole, and makes lighting and audio controls much more user friendly.

Six new heat pumps sit on a outside balcony on the side of the Centennial Hall building. The new pumps mean more energy efficiency and allows all three ballrooms section to be individually temperature controlled. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Six new heat pumps sit on a outside balcony on the side of the Centennial Hall building. The new pumps mean more energy efficiency and allows all three ballrooms section to be individually temperature controlled. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

“It feels great,” she said. “The whole team is really excited about how well everything has turned out, and that we are going to be able to be complete enough to hold the events that are all happening this week. We’re really excited to have the public come and see the finishes.”

The ballroom’s new look is mainly neutral colors like tan, gray and blue on the walls and floor. The ceiling, which was once brown, is now a crisp black, and hanging from it are 53 new speakers, 97 dedicated theatrical lighting circuits and 90 new light fixtures. According to Eagan-Lagerquist, a lot of thought went into the new look.

“Well, we wanted something that would be welcoming, and look new and fresh, but also be muted enough so that anyone who came in here can transform the space into whatever they wanted,” she said.

Tucker Harper, the on-site working foreman for the project, said getting all the new electrical equipment working properly before reopening the ballroom required miles upon miles of wiring.

“In total, we have about 45 and a half miles of wire pulled just in these ballrooms here,” he said. “So it was a very substantial project.”

Harper said that includes wiring for mechanical equipment, lighting, exit signs and more — basically everything that requires power he explained.

Now, as the days tick down to when the project is set to be complete, Kathleen Harper, Centennial Hall’s manager, said there will be no shortage of events at the location in the coming months.

The project manager for the Centennial Hall ballroom renovation, Lisa Eagan-Lagerquist, walks the catwalk near the ceiling of the ballroom set to open its doors again for the first time on Saturday after nearly nine months under construction. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The project manager for the Centennial Hall ballroom renovation, Lisa Eagan-Lagerquist, walks the catwalk near the ceiling of the ballroom set to open its doors again for the first time on Saturday after nearly nine months under construction. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

“We are hitting the ground running,” she said. “We are booked every single weekend through to mid-December with events.

With the nearly nine-month-long closure to the venue, places across Juneau have welcomed events that would normally utilize Centennial Hall. Places like the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall and schools across the district have largely taken the front on inviting those events, despite having much smaller capacities than the ballroom’s 500-person limit.

Harper said the reopening of the ballroom will relieve some of the burden on those other entities that have stepped up.

“I think it’s going to be huge,” she said. “There’s a lot of events that this is the only size space that they can fit in, especially some of those fundraising banquets.”

The first event, set to take place on Saturday, will be a private wedding. Other events this month at the renovated ballroom include state conferences and training, the Platypus-Con Board Gaming convention, the Áak’w Rock Indigenous music festival, an upcoming tattoo convention and the GLITZ Drag Show to name a few.

The funds for the ballroom project come from a 2019 voter-approved ballot proposition to add a 2% increase in the city’s hotel bed tax for 15 years to go toward improvements to Centennial Hall, along with another proposition that OK’d $7 million in debt to finance the repairs to Centennial Hall.

According to Eagan-Lagerquist, the project remained within the construction budget with contingency funds of $7 million.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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