When you think about the northern lights, a snow paradise and unique wildlife, you think about the ‘Great Land ‘, Alaska. Known for its beautiful landscapes and majestic scenery,The Last Frontier has so much to offer! And one of the important cities in Alaska is Anchorage, which is also the largest city of this American state.
Anchorage is the most populous city in Alaska, with around 300,000 inhabitants and the state’s leading commercial centre. Originally a tent city, Anchorage’s development started in 1915 as it developed mainly in the 20th century, before which it was a company town for the Alaska Railroad, however, Russians had already discovered this land in 1867. Today, it has become one of the most diverse cities in the United States of America.
World War II changed the face of Alaska; this area was affected by the war six months after the attack on Pearl Harbour; the Japanese captured The Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Thousands of men and women flocked to the thinly inhabited region due to the war, and many stayed. Alaska had a population of 72,000 in the 1940’sand it almost doubled to 129,000 by 1950. Anchorage’s population increased from 3,000 to 47,000 people. The war ended in 1943, changing the face of Alaska; today, there are several national historic landmarks to remember their soldiers and has one of the most treasured former Army / Navy bases.
Also known as Alaska’s largest village, Anchorage is one of Alaska’s most culturally diverse cities. In 2014, 18% of Alaska’s population was Alaska Native, with the highest number of people living in Anchorage. There are about 11 cultural ethnicities, speaking 20 different languages! The Alaska Native Heritage Centre is a beautiful place to visit, which will give you a look into their unique culture. Located in Northeast Anchorage, this Centre was built in 1999 by RIM Architects; this place represents the Alaskan people’s language, art, and culture and has been a must-visit tourist destination for a very long time!
The 1964 Alaska earthquake was the most powerful quake ever recorded in North America. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest metropolis, had many landslides and devastating city blocks and communities, known as the Good Friday Earthquake. The magnitude 9.2 earthquake was felt over the majority of Alaska’s mainland. The quake generated a series of disastrous tsunamis, landslides, and underwater collapses, resulting in enormous property damage and loss of life. Four minutes after the earthquakes stopped, a massive tidal surge smashed the tiny seaside village of Chenega, killing one-third of its residents.
Before the 1964 Alaskan earthquake, scientists had only a hazy understanding of what happened deep below the earth , there were two tectonic plates (large slabs of rock comprised of the earth’s crust and upper mantle) that meet, and one bends beneath the second, which were later discovered to have had a significant role in the earthquake. This resulted in a 300 million dollars loss. Since then, Alaska has been exposed to more earthquakes, but the country has adapted to new and strict building codes.
In 2018, a massive 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the city. Although there were no reports of death, it caused damage to the roads and the buildings in Anchorage. The earthquake is thought to have caused four structure fires, as well as some structural collapse. Following the quake, more than 32,000 power disruptions were recorded. The nine-story downtown building that previously housed a Key Bank branch received a $30 million makeover after being damaged and left unoccupied by the 2018 Anchorage earthquake. Although hundreds of structures were destroyed in the quake, Key Bank Plaza was the only commercial building in the region that was forced to close and scheduled to reopen in 2022.
The Modern Architectural Movement in Anchorage
ART DECO (1930-1950)
The Art Deco style was named after the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs & Industriels Modernes in Paris, but Art Deco did not confine itself to architecture. The type is common in commercial buildings but is uncommon in residential design. One of the unique examples of Art Deco in Anchorage is The Holy Family Old Cathedral. It is a former Catholic cathedral which was the first church building constructed in the city. Built-in 1948, it survived the 1964 earthquake and still stands strong.
Not only this, Art Moderne style of architecture and Art Deco are closely linked. This style was more prevalent in domestic construction than Art Deco, and many examples are similar to the contemporary International Style, in which ornamental elements are kept to a minimum.
The Brutalism movement started in the 1950s in America, and Alaska also was influenced by this world-famous architectural movement. Concrete is the most common material used in this design. However, glass, wood, brick, and stone are all used. Although Brutalist-style structures are uncommon in Alaska, they may be found scattered around the state; today, some examples of Brutalist architecture are preserved and found around Anchorage.
STRUCTURAL EXPRESSIONISM (1970-PRESENT)
Structural Expressionist buildings, like Brutalism, display their structure on the outside as well as the interior. The concepts of interchangeable prefabricated pieces, flexibility in design, and construction economy are all included in Structural Expressionist structures. The fundamental idea behind this design is to employ structural components to influence the building’s appearance.
Many structures in this architectural trend exhibit whimsical designs and sarcastic pairings while paying respect to the past. Postmodernism is an antithesis to the Modern Movement. Postmodern forms may be found all across Alaska. One of the best examples of Postmodernism is the famous Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Built-in 1988, the Municipality of Anchorage has managed the Centre since then. It consists of three theatres:
Evangeline Atwood Concert Hall (2,000 seats)
Discovery Theatre (700 seats)
Sydney Laurence Theatre (340 seats)
CORPORATE MODERN (1950-PRESENT)
The goal of the Corporate Contemporary style, like much modern architecture, is to express the structure in its external look. Corporate Modern Style buildings may be found across Alaska, primarily in corporate and commercial hubs.
Anchorage is walking towards modernization and also embracing its sacred wildlife and diverse culture. In the future, Anchorage’s economy is expected to evolve and increase in the next ten years, contributing to the bright future of Alaska.
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