Friday, November 14, 2008

E Street project goes into deep freeze

The Muni, through its website Destination Downtown, is reporting that the E Street Corridor Project is on hold. Thankfully, unlike the recent halting of projects around the country such as a major skyscraper project in Chicago (or for a more local level, the cancellation of Costco in Wasilla), the E Street project is NOT being canceled due to the economy or poor planning. As any Alaskan would know, "it's the snow, stupid". Construction shall resume in the Spring. Meanwhile here's some pics I took on how the project is shaping up so far with three personal observations that pop out to me:

First off, it appears the corridor will be losing the specially designed green light poles. The unique poles looked awesome when I was a young child, but just the other day I was thinking about how they have aged with their 80s look and that they should be replaced with traditional poles to integrate Downtown with the rest of the city. Next thing I know, I drive by 5th and E a few days later and see what appears to be the installation of new poles (stumps for now).

Perspective really helps in understanding just what is going down and I can't think of anything better to prove that than this shot of the new street curb placed further away from its original location. It looks like the new sidewalk will take up what was formally metered parking along with the right lane of old E Street.

Last, the intersection of 6th and E looks to be complete. Unlike the blueprints however, I don't see the darker colored bricks that were to be placed so as to appear pointing towards Town Square. Another thing worthy of mentioning is that the crosswalks are not just painted onto the bricks. They're actual slabs of concrete which I suppose makes sense considering the uneven brick surface that the intersections of 6th & E and 5th & E now present.

By the way for those interested to learn more about the specific project I was referring to in Chicago, check it out here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seattle shying away from daring architecture?

No, this is not me being lazy to post original updates. I swear! I've been meaning to post this interesting op-ed piece published recently in the Seattle P.I. that has to do with whether Seattle's modern architecture is running too conservative for an otherwise emerging international city. While I try to stay away from the carnage of harsh criticism, critic Lawrence W. Cheek is apparently more than happy to tackle whatever building design has gotten in his bonnet.

On one building in Seattle, Cheek writes:

"Lake Union Center on the ship canal waterfront, exudes all the panache of a Baptist Sunday School annex".

Ouch. Anyways, the rest of the article is here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Denali Project leases space in 188 Northern Lights

If you opened your Sunday edition of the Anchorage Daily News, you may have seen in the A section an ad from the Denali Project in which they proudly announce their permanent home for its Anchorage headquarters-- 188 West Northern Lights in Midtown. That's right, the building that since its summer completion has sat disturbingly empty is finally getting its first tenant! To backtrack, earlier this year during Sarah Palin's AGIA bidding, BP and ConocoPhillips created a joint venture known as the Denali Project which was their own pitch for the governor to compete with TransCanada and the very few other bidders for AGIA. During the conference announcing the venture, the people at Denali announced an Anchorage headquarters as one of the numerous incentives that Alaska would get with this Denali Project. One has to wonder though, what was plan B? headquarter in Sitka? Of course they'll headquarter in Anchorage! Anyways the company is leasing 40,000 square feet which according to Petroleum News will be just enough for some 175 employees. Agreements on leasing were made in late October.

While it's great to see such a deserving building receive a tenant, there's also some irony as well considering who the tenant is. In 2006, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported on some skepticism and concern about both the then infant JL Tower and 188 WNL possibly relying too much on the prospects of a natural gas line for an economic boom to fill their towers lease space.

Overall, it's going to be great to see 188 WNL finally have some of its interior lights on at night. You can watch that happen with this live view of the tower.