Tag Archives: design

nome site visit

nome, ak 99762


located just 102 miles south of the arctic circle, nome is the regional hub for the norton sound area. we are working on a major interior remodel project of about 9000 sf that includes two court rooms for the alaska court system and associated office and support functions. the project will have asbestos abatement and removal of two original existing steam boilers with higher efficient equipment. hope we can incorporate some more local art and materials into the project.

art in the superior court room

art in the superior court room

dig afognak mess hall

dig afognak

dig afognak mess hall

the building is designed with the idea to harvest most of the materials from the site. the structural members are made up of small scale lumber cut from the site by the community.

the building is made up of truss-frames at 10′ on center. the frames can be assembled on site and put up with local workforce. 2x wall framing is initially exposed on the interior, making the wood visible inside and out.  if desired the walls can be insulated and cladded at a later date. wooden floors are rough sawn slabs and will wear to a smooth finish over time. in the center of the mess hall is a masonry heater made up of local rock for thermal storage of wood heat. the hot water will be pre-heated with a heat exchanger from the masonry heater.

a renewable wood shed is located close to the lake for better solar access. some of the electrical power will be supplied by solar photovoltaic panels. the solar pv panels are located on the roof of the shed and provide a space to dry the wood to fuel the masonry heater. a wind turbine is mounted near the beach for electric power generation.

project was designed summer 2012 for the foraker group pre-development program and is looking for funding of construction.

dig afognak

akutan daycare center

akutan day care

akutan, ak 99553

aerial view of our new akutan day care center. the volcanic island of akutan is 766 air miles southwest from anchorage. this is the first daycare facility for this small island community.  the two classrooms face akutan bay with spectacular views across the body of water. the second story features a two bedroom apartment.

design team: mayer sattler-smith – architect, jernstrom engineering, eic electrical, arete structural

risk and resilience

joe swan sr. kivalina 2012

joe swan sr. kivalina city council member

next week i will be visiting with MDes students at the harvard university graduate school of design in the risk and resilience program.  i will present an update of the adf relocate project. the bbc london was asking if the residence of kivalina will be the first climate refugees in north america.  see the article by bbc here.


in memoriam jim loftus

Tonight I know that i will leave

The fight is done

And slowly as i say goodbye

I need to speak

And say my love for close-knit friends.

Support, support was what they gave

They made me live.

To die, not old, cocooned in love

Transferring through a point in time

To somewhere else

A gift we have no right to ask

And its mine.

My brainwaves span the cool night air

And tap goodbye to friends unseen.

Will they go on and span in time

My after life

I’d like to know.


an engineer imagines – peter rice 1992


i got the sad news right after i checked my messages following my second week of teaching.  after initial disbelief, i was overcome with a warm feeling and tried to remember why this news touched me so deeply. the first time i met jim was for a project meeting for a native student dorm and learning center for alaska pacific university in anchorage. that must have been around 1999 and i was tasked with working out the details for some skylights and bridge structures within the building. i remember being deeply impressed by jim’s quiet and gentle way to guide us to a solution that would work with the goals set out for the particular spaces. the entire architectural team was positive surprised to have found a structural engineer that we could work with in partnership and someone who was willing to advance our vision with us. these project meetings would always end up being a well cherished regular all day event with many times adjusting his return flight to fairbanks to accommodate our progress. ( i am sure eileen can attest to that…..)

i don’t really remember if i gave jim my book about peter rice, an engineer imagines after the project ended, but i think the story of this irish visionary, that had passed away by cancer all too soon, cemented our bond and became our foundation for the work that followed.  we enlisted jim’s expertise and services for some of our best work. we shared a common belief in that how we construct our build environment, our values and aspirations for future generations are exposed.  many times we would compare notes after the alaska design forum lecture guests had long left the stage and nurtured our faith in what at times seemed impossible in our daily pursuits. i am particular fond of two projects that we worked on together. our first residential commission as a young firm, features so many fine details that bare jim’s influence, in particular i remember some arm wrestling about the smallest stainless steel column size that we could get away with for the support of one of the house corners.  the other project is the “house for a musher” where jim gave us the option of resolving all the lateral loads in two concrete pillars set back to have an unobstructed view of mount mc kinley. an excellent example of jim’s thinking, where with modest ways and without drawing attention to it  you can resolve all the forces beautifully.

we will all greatly miss jim. our condolences to eileen and family.

ç by dave lauridsen

© by dave lauridsen



alexandria house site visit



unalaska, ak 99685


alexandria house

this weeks spotlight is on the unalaska based non-profit alexandria house.

the non-profit is providing shelter for homeless people in this community that is accessible only by boat and air service.

here is a link to a new york times article with video from 2009 that explains the situation.

our current plans are to renovate the existing building. we have a residence with dedicated place for visitors and about 1000 sf tenant space on the ground floor.




anchorage community works

anchorage community works

anchorage youngest non-profit the anchorage community works is getting off the ground on ship creek avenue after a successful kickstarter campaign. the goal is to offer a space for any creative work and encourage collaboration across many disciplines. it might also be the location where you can enjoy your favorite band play or sign up for a workshop to get know-how on your topic of choice.

please consider your support by checking out the facility or programs or donate to the campaign (i am sure they will still accept your help, even the kickstarter has ended…)



living in a viewmaster

view masters in alaska © kamil bialous

view masters in alaska
© kamil bialous

canadian photographer kamil bialous shares some of the images he took of our house for a musher that he shot for dwell last fall.

“A house for a musher; Martin Buser and Kathy Chapoton residence photographed for Dwell. A modern log cabin, with perfect views of golden valleys and distant mountains, and finished in black charred cedar, sits atop one of the highest hills around. Overlooking a meadow, lake, and Martin’s dog kennels, the land changes with the light and seasons, the windows becoming picture frames to the scenery.

But the house is not a fortress – designed by architects Mayer Sattler-Smith, its concept allows an indoor/outdoors balance, because you don’t just look at the landscape, you live with it. Like living in a viewmaster.




visitor center site visit

aspen tree column

aspen tree column

mock-up of a peeled aspen tree column at a recent site visit to the happy trails kennels new visitor center under construction. the new 2500 sf facility is scheduled to open later this summer.
the aspen trees are from the site and peeled right after they are harvested.  over time they will turn white and the aspen are known for their resistance to rotting and warping.