kivalina site visit

kivalina ak 99750

kivalina is located about 83 miles north of the arctic circle on the west coast of the chukchi sea. the village has about 460 residents. the barrier island is threatened by erosion and sea level rise due to climate change. we are working on the community center with re-locate.


call of the wild – monocle

in the latest issue of monocle magazine’s “the escapist” anchorage is featured as one of ten global cities for the travel section. toronto bureau chief tomos lewis came to interview me at the snowhaus earlier this year. all images by ross mantle of

klaus mayer

housing in extreme environments exhibition at GSD

gsd option studio fall 2014 by spela videcnik and rok oman of ofis arhitekti focused on housing in extreme environments. they asked me if i would share some of the environmental considerations with their students for the alaskan studio sites. it was great to be part of the final review and to see the designs for the alaskan settings. affordable housing is a top priority for many alaskan communities. we look forward to hosting the exhibit at the anchorage museum later this year.

extreme housing studio final review fall 2014

extreme housing studio final review fall 2014

“The extreme climatic conditions of the North introduce a design paradox for architects. The fragile environmental conditions require incisive designs that respond to irregular loading from strong winds, heavy snowfalls, avalanche risk zones, and extreme cold. The studio investigated a prototypical design: a unit with sleeping and cooking space for up to eight people, on a mountain site in Slovenia. The talk (on Friday, February 13th) serves as an opening for the exhibition on this project, curated by Spela Videcnik, John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Housing and Urban Development, with Rok Oman, featuring the work of her Fall 2014 studio, displayed on the Experiments Wall (in Gund Hall). Construction of the shelter is planned for summer 2015. ”

re-locate update from kivalina


So Kivalina has a limited water source for water and sewer, but I’ve been looking for ways to set up a flush toilet system in my house on my own without having to collect water from the city’s tanks. This world is made up of incredible people are are creative, intelligent, and innovative and we have many here in Kivalina. They are just not motivated or the funding sources won’t fund private citizens. I’m not afraid of trying nor of failure. I just need those ‘creative, intelligent, innovative’ people to help me and a funding source.

So I’ve been looking for a toilet that has minimal water usage. I have an idea of a disposal system but I still need those ‘creative, intelligent and innovative’ people to design and construct it. But while I was sitting on this idea, a group of amazing individuals came to our aid; the Re-locate Group consisting of members from all over the world from as far as Asia. The first group that came to Kivalina had engineers from India but I wasn’t in Kivalina when they came so I don’t have photos of them. What an honor that was!

These people are not from governmental agencies, they were not sent by the politicians we voted in for office. They are private citizens that had heart enough to come together and make plans of helping Kivalina, total strangers to them. And still helping today. They are an independent group from different states and countries but also from Alaska. The media can have good results, it can reach the good-hearted people even if it was bad news that reached them. And we thank God for that!

-Submitted by Janet Mitchell, with her own take and views


climate change puts alaska in spotlight

here is a link to a recent feature about modern architecture in alaska highlighting our work in architizer

“…..Alaska, the next Florida? Maybe even the next Brooklyn? (Our words, not theirs). If you have not yet had your climate change wake up call, this is surely it. With this in mind, it seems as though Anchorage-based mayer sattler-smith is one step ahead, whether they know it or not, with a slew of innovative designs seamlessly integrated into the Alaskan landscape….”

solcab southwest

oldie but goodie

6 10 2014

this story was first published in dwell almost 10 years ago….

dwell story....

dwell story….

…A home features panoramic views of the stunning Alaskan landscape:

“This land, it is a fantastic, natural place,” explains Klaus Mayer, when I talk to him later on the phone. “It needs structures that respond to this amazing environment, that articulate this area. That doesn’t exist here yet—and that is the great challenge for us to work on.”

If Alaska is indeed architecture’s last frontier, then these must be its first pioneers.

homer site visit

homer ak 99603

homer is located on the southern tip of the kenai peninsula about 115 air miles south of anchorage.  the city has about 5000 year round residents and is a vibrant hub for art known far beyond alaska. we are working with the homer council on the arts to develop plans for energy upgrades and reorganization of their existing facility.

homer council on the arts

snowhaus one of 50 projects up for vote building of the year 2013

Building of the Year 2013

Fifty projects – one from each state – were presented as Building of the Week on in 2013. Now it’s time for you, our readers, to choose the 2013 Building of the Year. With just a few mouse clicks you can vote for your favorite here. The most popular project will be presented alongside the editors’ choice in our eMagazine #6|14 and on our website starting from February 3, 2014. We thank you for your participation and look forward to seeing the results.The Poll is open until January 31, 2014.


review of buildings of the week 2013

“houses we love” dwell takes a look at rural houses

using the term farmhouse in a wider sense, dwell magazine added our house for a musher on a list of ten rural houses …….

10 charming farmhouses around the globe

Set in ranging landscapes from Alaska to Sweden, Dwell takes a look at 10 modern cottages built on rural terrain around the world.



photo by kamil  bialous