Centennial Hall the night of a public meeting about the building’s future, May 7, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Centennial Hall the night of a public meeting about the building’s future, May 7, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

‘We need to beautify this ugly building’: Architects ask public what they want out of Centennial Hall

Public meeting helps with planning for renovations

As Centennial Hall heads toward its first comprehensive renovation in 35 years, designers are mulling over exactly what that makeover will entail.

MRV Architects have been contracted by the City and Borough of Juneau to come up with design options for the event venue and convention center, and Tuesday evening a public meeting was held at Centennial Hall to discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s kind of fun in a way,” said Paul Voelckers, MRV Architects president and architect, of getting to reimagine a facility that he said has been essentially stuck in the ’80s.

The meeting was attended by about two dozen people, most of whom had either a direct interest in the building or a professionally duty connected to Centennial Hall. This included city officials, architects, Juneau Arts & Humanity Council employees and members — the JAHC manages the city-owned property.

“I’m just happy to see so many people interested in what’s happening at Centennial Hall,” said Mayor Beth Weldon, who was in attendance for most of the meeting.

Opinions from those in the room identified lighting, streamlined controls for the building’s electrical features, appearance, availability of breakout space and its sense of place as weaknesses and things that will need to be improved in order for the space to draw conferences to Juneau.

[Centennial Hall’s needs move into focus]

Sheets outlining the perceived strengths and weakness of Centennial Hall were distributed and collected by those handling the project. The surveys will be made available online through the CBJ and MRV websites, said project manager and city architect Nathan Coffee.

Coffee said comments will likely be accepted throughout May.

“We need to beautify this ugly building,” said former Assembly member Karen Crane during guided conversations about Centennial Hall that made up the majority of the meeting.

Architects said much of the same thing in a less blunt manner during introductory statements.

Zane Jones, architect for MRV Architects, and Voelckers both said Centennial Hall could look more welcoming and instill visitors with a sense of arrival.

Jones said Sitka’s revitalized Sitka’s revitalized Harrigan Centennial Hall with an abundance of windows and views was an example of a venue in Southeast Alaska that made use of modern architecture and local strengths.

“It should be authentic to our place, and it should capture our views,” Voelckers said.

While the project is being approached as a standalone effort, the way Centennial Hall will interact with the proposed New Juneau Arts & Culture Center project was part of the meeting’s discussions.

[Live coverage of Centennial Hall meeting]

“I think everybody understands the potential of joint usership of events that can flow both ways,” Voelckers said.

He said the two projects could be physically linked, which is an option that has been discussed since last year, by something as simple as a covered walkway or a more involved, enclosed and climate controlled shared space.

However, many of the breakout tables including ones featuring JAHC Executive Director Nancy DeCherney and a table featuring Travel Juneau President Liz Perry said it’s important to keep in mind the way Centennial Hall interacts with other nearby, downtown venues.

They said a revitalized Centennial Hall effectively forms a campus with the JACC, Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum and Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.

About two dozen people attended a May 7 public meeting about a Centennial Hall design options study. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

About two dozen people attended a May 7 public meeting about a Centennial Hall design options study. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

Michael Ruppert inspects percussion instrumentation that’s part of the setup for the 1928 Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building. Ruppert, co-owner of Rose City Organ Builders in Oregon, spent two days this with with fellow co-owner Christopher Nordwall tuning and restoring the organ to playable condition. The instrument has not been played since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but local officials and musicians are hoping to schedule a lunchtime concert during the next couple of weeks. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Clearing the old pipes

Tuners revive 1928 Kimball organ in State Office Building; lunchtime concerts may resume next week

Michele Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, speaks to about 15 residents who attended a public meeting discussing the final version of the Montana Creek master plan at the Trail Mix Inc. shop Wednesday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
The Montana Creek master plan is finalized — now what?

Management officials emphasize openness to future ideas not included in plan.

Tuckerman Babcock hosts a rally in Soldotna during his campaign for state Senate in October of 2022. On Wednesday he was appointed to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Babcock has a long and controversial political history in Alaska, including illegally demanding hundreds of state employees sign loyalty oaths to Dunleavy or be fired. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuckerman Babcock gets recess appointment to UA board by Dunleavy

Selection of controversial political strategist comes after Legislature’s rejection of Bethany Marcum.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 30, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Christopher Koch, music director of the Juneau Symphony, conducts a rehearsal of the theme from the 1989 “Batman” movie in the auditorium at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé in preparation for two concerts this weekend at the school featuring familiar soundtrack compositions from films with “showdown” plot lines. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A final ‘Showdown’ for Juneau Symphony’s 60th season

Songs from epic confrontation films and an original by Taylor Vidic scheduled this weekend at JDHS.

This image shows the cover of Kate Troll’s new book “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love.” Troll will be hosting a book signing at Hearthside Books on Friday evening. Her event is one of the many First Friday events scheduled for June. (Cirque Press)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

New artistic exhibitions, LGBTQ+ events and more.

Most Read