Monday, October 20, 2008

Dena'ina officially opens to the public


So over the weekend the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center officially opened its doors to the public to show off what capabilities the new building can handle for future events that the much smaller Egan Center just couldn't take on. I wouldn't say it was as crowded as I initially feared, but there was a good showing by the public, most of whom were just impressed with the interior of the new civic center. As I've said in an earlier post, the Dena'ina Center is blessed to have been built in the 21st century and not the previous. The Egan Center's purple walls, stale art, casino-like carpet, and total absence of natural light in the main exhibition room (along with obviously the second exhibition room underground), was not aging well, to say the least. Thank goodness they at least took down those bicycle-like streamers that once hung over the main room from the ceiling. Now those were really gaudy. The Dena'ina, on the other hand, is a breathe of fresh air that took me back to the opening of Concourse C at the Anchorage International Airport with its abundant amount of natural light, clean and minimalist design, and use of a narrower Native color palette whenever color was needed. I think it's safe to say the rest of the public saw what I saw and were pleased with the results.

Just to restate some basic info, the Dena'ina Center broke ground in 2006 after the public approved use of bed-tax to fund the entire project. The Center contains 200,000 square feet and has increased the city's capacity of convention space by more than 300%. Recently, the ADN reported that the Dena'ina will operate at a loss for its first year (scroll down for the post on that story). The building is roughly the same height as the Hill Building (aka City Hall... but it will always be Hill Building to me) across the street.

Some pictures from the weekend opening (click to view):

By the way, I was pleased to see that the new convention center has a concession stand built into the main exhibit room. That was clearly the make or break for me...






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