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Alaska Railroad honors employees, architectural firm for freight shed project


Yesterday, Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Aadnesen presented the inaugural Colonel Frederick Mears Award for Excellence to a team of ARRC employees and an Alaskan architectural firm for their work on revitalizing an historic freight shed in Ship Creek, Alaska.

The award recognizes people and projects that “move the railroad forward and contribute to the greater good of Alaska and railbelt communities,” ARRC officials said in a prepared statement.

Aadnesen presented the awards to recipients during a ceremony that marked the U.S. Forest Service’s move into new office space in the freight shed.

ARRC employees who were recognized included Jim Kubitz, vice president of real estate and facilities; Paul Farnsworth, facilities director; Andy Donovan, leasing manager; and Barbara Amy, corporate finance manager.

Also honored was ECI/Hyer Architecture & Interiors for its work to maintain the building’s historic nature while ensuring the renovation met Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) criteria. Incorporating historic preservation and contemporary design was key to transforming what had been an empty, 70-year-old warehouse into a modern, environmentally friendly office building, ARRC officials said.

The renovation project began in 2008, when ARRC officials sought to restore the freight shed as a key element of the overall Ship Creek redevelopment plan. The Alaska Humanities Forum moved into the shed in 2010, followed by the U.S. Forest Service in July 2012. The shed now is 93 percent leased.

The award is named after Colonel Frederick Mears, the former Alaska Engineering Commission chairman and chief engineer who is credited with overseeing Alaska Railroad construction from 1914 to 1923.