Renovation of Kivalina Community Center Underway

A Relocation Planning Space in Kivalina

Update: For completed project photos and account see Re-Locate’s Facebook page and Re-Locate blog. See also photos of the community center in winter taken by architect Klaus Mayer on March 3, 2018.

This September, Three Degrees Warmer and Re-Locate are working with carpenters from Kivalina and JADE Craftsman Builders to renovate the Kivalina Community Center. For decades, Kivalina people have gathered in the Kivalina Community Center to play games, dance, sing, eat, and welcome guests. It has also been a place where Kivalina leaders, together with their neighbors and partners, come together to discuss the future.

Today, because the building is in partial disrepair and not designed to support specific community needs such as village relocation planning, it is not regularly used as a civic or decision making space. It is in need of an update and redesign. Re-Locate architects and partners have been working with both Councils and people from around Kivalina for the past four years to develop a design that responds to specific community needs, and has successfully fundraised capital costs from ArtPlace America to renew and rebuild the building.

The need for an updated building is urgent. Much of Kivalina’s relocation planning has historically been done in Anchorage, such that community participation in meetings and day-­to-­day planning activities is not always possible. Renovations create an updated space for the important historic and contemporary uses of the Kivalina Community Center while re-centering relocation planning in the village and housing numerous platforms designed in support of the relocation process. The space will house a range of locally progammed events to informal and highly curated engagements centered around Kivalina’s planning process and its implications for responses to climate change worldwide, including:

  • A Kivalina Archive of the village’s relocation history (physical and online archive)
  • Local Area Network (LAN) (a local internet that will make the Kivalina Archive and other prospective locally specific sites available village-wide)
  • Large-scale maps, models, and drawings
  • In-­village summits and residencies with Kivalina, artists, guests, and transdisciplinary partners
  • Village workshops and community meetings
  • Office and computer workspace
  • Coffeehouse and potlucks
  • Dancing and music
  • Traditional craft and practices workshops
  • Kivalina programming for Easter, 4th of July, and other community events
  • After school programming
  • Water and sanitation technology demonstrations, training, and testing

Between September 5–September 29, 2017, the Crew will:

  • Renovate the kitchen to include custom designed cabinets, a fridge and an electric stove, and a full set of fixtures;
  • construct a Front Entry Ramp, which will include a ramp, storage, and hallway spaces.
    Install a Skylight over the gathering space;
  • construct a Planning Space on the west end of the building. The crew will install a long wall that includes bunks, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The relocation planning space will house the objects, meetings, and materials needed for furthering relocation planning efforts. The space will also include work and gathering tables and a custom-designed long desk;
  • construct a storage space for the Kivalina Archive: At the northernmost wall, a custom cabinet will be installed to house the planning documents (Kivalina Archive) that relate to Kivalina’s long-term planning efforts. The digital archive will run off of a computer stationed in the Planning Space; and
  • construct a Back Porch Entry, which will include an entry door and a Planning Space Entry Porch at the west side of the building. The Entry Porch will include storage, stairs, and hallway spaces.

The building renovation will be completed by 4 Kivalina Crew members (Charles Adams, Repogle Swan, Sr., Oran Knox, Jr., and Robert Hawley) and JADE Craftsman Builders from Whidbey Island, WA, led by Dan Neumeyer, Taz Squire, and Micheal Cox.

JADE Craftsman Builders’ Owner and Principal Dan Neumeyer is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Architecture Program who brings over 30 years of residential and commercial Project Management and urban and suburban construction experience to the renovation. JADE’s involvement in Three Degrees Warmer and the Re-Locate project also ties Dan’s current work with that of his lifelong mentor, Bill Coperthwaite. In 1971, Bill Coperthwaite visited Kivalina and 19 other villages while on a trip to Alaska to learn about Native heritage and artifacts. He visited the schools in each village and his tour came to be known as A Traveling Museum of Eskimo Culture. Jen Marlow of Three Degrees Warmer was also a student of Bill Coperthwaite’s.

Jen Marlow and Michael Gerace of Re-Locate are also joining the crew, after working for the past few four years to manage the process of community organizing, fundraising, design, logistics (with help from Teck and AML), hiring, and now construction for the renovated community center and relocation planning space.

We are grateful to ArtPlace America’s Creative Placemaking grant program for its generous support of the Re-Locate project, and would also like to thank the members of Architecture without Borders Austria for their early organizing support and their assistance with developing design concepts for a reprogrammed community space.

For more information and project updates, please visit the Re-Locate Kivalina Facebook Page, the JADE in Kivalina website, and ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking Grant.

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