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Architect honored for Alaska Railroad depot design


San Francisco-based KMD recently received an American Institute of Architects (AIA) MIPIM Award for an Alaska Railroad station design that KMD characterizes as an interpretation of "the fascination of the Aurora Borealis."

The $28 million Alaska Railroad Bill Sheffield Depot serves as a "colorful beacon that mirrors the spectacular patterns of glimmering lights in the sky," according to a prepared statement. Skylights span across the 25-foot high vaulted ceilings and capture the "magnificent patterns of light." At night, smooth aluminum panels that frame the towering glass window walls create "a warm glow that constantly changes" as passenger and visitors near the station, the architects believe.

"The rail station brings the intrigue of the sky into a welcoming center to greet and tantalize visitors with the natural splendors of Alaska," said Herb McLaughlin, KMD's design director.

And the tunnel linking the rail station to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport offers a thematic "sky" experience: As travelers step onto the 154-foot, two-way people mover, shafts of tri-colored light (and a little fiber-optic technology) simulate the Northern Lights across the arched ceiling.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/20/2004