Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Construction Rundown: U-Med Edition

I call it U-Med Edition because it is only the U-Med district in which winter construction activity is really present. And it's hardly surprising that it is the U-Med that is seeing action -- it has precedent if it had not been obvious yet. Since 2004, we have seen the opening of the UAA APU Consortium Library, the Conoco Phillips Science Building, a major expansion of Providence Hospital, expansion of the Alaska Native Medical Center, UAA Health Science Building, three parking garages, and more recently, the Alaska Airlines Center, and the new Engineering Building. And I did not even give  a full list of the new buildings that went up at the UAA campus. Rather than slowing down, activity has only speeded up in recent years and this season is no exception. A new parking garage is under construction at the ANMC campus, while on Providence Drive there is a new First National Bank branch going up not far from a new pedestrian walkway that spans over Providence Drive.

Alaska Native Medical Center Parking Structure













My apologies for not having much information on this project. The garage is located right behind the main ANMC building, however the garage may not even be for the hospital. Earlier last year, Southcentral Foundation held a ground breaking ceremony for a new three-story health facility. After my best efforts, I could not pinpoint the location of this new building (all I know is it hasn't gone up), but I suspect it has nothing to do with the parking garage. Also talked about earlier last year was the construction of a six-story hotel for hospital visitors. For a hotel of that size, a garage might seem appropriate. But there is no building going up next to the garage at the moment. Guess we'll have to wait.

First National Bank U-Med Branch







                Unlike other First National Bank branches around town, it appears that the bank is going for a more modern and state of the art look for its first U-Med branch. Makes sense considering its highly regarded neighbors as well as the overall well-manicured appearance of the district. A classic Midtown strip mall or gas station would painfully stick out in a setting like this. What I really like about this building is the fact that it will be right up to the street sitting at the corner of Piper and Providence. No parking lot and landscaping in front of the building. But this choice of layout isn't surprising considering that this project is being developed by Pfeffer Development. Pfeffer is also behind a string of developments on 36th Avenue in which those buildings also sit up to the street with entryways leading from the sidewalk. You can catch the progress on this building at the bank's official site.

Providence Drive Skybridge
Bringing UAA's skybridge count up to four is this new arch shaped span that will connect the new Engineering Science Building with the new-ish Health Science Building. We've covered this as early as 2008, but now it's actually happening. The bridge has more of a visual impact than I had anticipated. Driving eastbound to UAA on 36th Avenue, the bridge is visible as soon as you come over the hill toward the intersection of 36th and Lake Otis. It looks like this bridge will be giving the U-Med a visual landmark, at least from 36th.

So there ya go. One project left out of this U-Med rundown is yet another new parking garage, this one for UAA, for which work started last fall. Right now however, all that is there are the concrete foundations. I'll probably cover it by spring. Besides that, UAA has been looking at building a second Health Science Building, likely to be located next to the existing Health Science Building on Providence Drive. If you had not known yet however, the winds have changed and the state is using its red pen to lighten its spending budget. In addition, the recent collapse of oil prices is certainly not helping financial matters. With the University of Alaska dependent on the actions in Juneau, UAA may be seeing the sun set on its decade of construction activity.