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

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

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.

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

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.

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

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.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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

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