Alaska Islands & Visitor Center

ROLE:  Architect
CLIENT:  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

2005 Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture – American Institute of Architects, AK Chapter

2005 Design for Life Award-Public Buildings; American Society of Interior Designers, WA Chapter

This visitor center is sited on a natural bluff with occupied spaces arranged along the southern façade to maximize views of Kachemak Bay. The intent is for all occupants to feel a connection with coastal Alaska. Thus, the building orients itself toward the sea coast, and turns its back on the adjacent highway. The coastal façade is open and inviting, while the urban façade incorporates solid sound buffer walls to reinforce the permanence of the institutions housed within. The upper and lower floors remain connected visually by means of open areas or overlooks. Other connections to nature include access to interpretive trails and various outdoor amenities such as an amphitheater and plazas. 

The building was programmed as an important community element, having a distinct local identity and expressing a strong historical association with artisans. Hence, the design team commissioned original works within the building to integrate with the architecture. The seamless result has been well received. 


This 35,000 SF facility is shared by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve.  It is essentially divided into three distinct functional components: Visitor Facilities, Educational Program Spaces, and Headquarter Offices. An 832 SF laboratory and research area provide space for scientific research of marine wildlife and educational purposes. 


General Contractor:  Jay-Brant General Contractors, Homer