Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Mickey Richardson, Vice President of Creative and Marketing for Huna Totem Corporation presented their Áak’w Landing project at the Chamber of Commerce's weekly luncheon.
After solely consulting for the cruise industry for nearly a decade, Richardson moved to Juneau in August of 2018 to become part of Huna Totem's team.
Richardson also oversees the creative for Huna terms tourism products and expansion throughout Alaska.
Richardson talked about how the process started for Huna Totem's Áak’w Landing project.
"So we started this project with NCL and the RFI project. So there are many groups around that participated in that and submitted proposals, and we were one of them. Along with winning the RFI process, we also found out through that, that we also were given the property as well. And that's been a huge, huge exciting day for us when we found that out. As you know, the property has a great history and was recently or two years back purchased by NCL for $20 million. That waterfront property that went the money and funds of that went to the Mental Health Trust. So it had some great benefits. And so it's very cool that now it's back in the hands of a locally made corporation here in Juneau."
Richardson presented the project's goals and how they plan to move forward.
"So we started out our RFI process with really five core concepts. And we start down and started down the creative design row. The first concept was, we wanted to make it special and unique when you walk off that dock, that you realize you're in a very unique place, and that we're really reflecting the local and cultural values of Juneau. So that's a very interesting challenge. And one we took very seriously, as you'll see from concept one. Two is curating traffic flow. Our location there is the gateway to Juneau downtown. And we're excited that all buses when they leave, we're gonna move a lot of traffic out of downtown. Goal three, which is a huge challenge, which is most tourism facilities here in town shut down in the winter. That's not our goal."
Richardson talked about their goal to stay open year-round and include their desired amenities within the allowed area.
"Our goal is how do we attract retailers and restaurants that would be across from the tourism or travel space into and attract people from Juneau So that's a big challenge, year-round operation. Fourth, 'no pixie dust'. There was a lot said about this project and commitments that we heard throughout the public process, NCL did a great job collecting feedback and listening to the community, knowing that we really only have 2.9 acres of land. So it's a really tough challenge, right? We only have 2.9 acres, and we're not going to utilize other people's space, or other people's properties, we have to be within height limitations and zoning and planning that was set to that piece of property. So how do we remove all the other craziness so that we simply just come down with a great project that falls within all the guidelines?"
Richardson talked about goal number one, community and culture, and how Huna Totem plans to integrate it.
"We thought what better way for us to do that but to also tell the story from when you walk off the ship using hand-rails, trestles, and the infrastructure that normally is bare, it doesn't have any art to tell the story of the Áak’w K'wáan people. So from the minute you walk off the ship, our goal was to make it you walked off and walking to a tour, and by the time you've reached the park, you've completed a story. And then also, we wanted to leave art space available for future stories. The next is one of my favorites, which is called the Skywalk which is normally when guests walk off the ship, they're walking up a straight street trestle, and directly onto land. What happens when guests walk off in a straight line format, is that they're really looking at the person's head in front of them. It doesn't create curiosity, it actually creates confusion because they're like, well, where do I go next? They don't know. So then they cluster up at the top of the gangway, and they're not quite sure what to do. So we wanted to try to remove that. And the easiest way for us to do it was, let's create a curved trestle we'd never seen anywhere else in the world. Where it curves up around the bow and that perspective of the ship, people like that. It also creates a unique view when the ship is not there. But also as they go up, it creates curiosity, they're able to see what's ahead of them, where they're gonna go, and where they want to explore. And then we kind of took that to the next level, which was, instead of moving guests onto the sidewalk level, what we're going to call the 25-foot grade, we're going to move them up to the 45-foot grade. So then we separate pedestrian traffic from vehicle traffic, it allows them to get up and above and around the bow and gets them to those great views that we have. So beautiful, iconic views around Juneau."
Richardson said the view of the Skywalk will lead tourists to the retail cultural experience that will happen above the dock.
Above: Looking back at the bow and looking down into the trestle. As people come up off the deck, this is the view Huna Totem is designing for them to see. (Photo courtesy to Huna Totem)
All photos are design concepts and are not finalized.
Richardson said at the 25-foot level, they will have an expanded sea walk down below with restaurant spaces and cafes.
The heightened skywalk will allow guests to easily see and choose where they'd like to go next in the park/retail area.
"We wanted to make sure that those quarters and pathways, as you can see here became future art space and creative space and cultural space throughout the experience. Looking off to the east, you can see that we have a totem pole in the center of this anchor, and then carving locations. And then, of course, beautiful indoor-outdoor spaces. The other thing you'll see is we try to carry the roofline. So when the weather is not good, we have the whole entire experience covered. So it's a really cool, creative space for artists, but also is very functional as well."
Richardson spoke about what the park will be used for, during the summer and in the off-season.
"Here at the top that retail space, then it has a 3% greater slope that works its way down to eat. And what we've also done is try to incorporate that entertainment element into the site. So we have a performance platform. You can see on the right-hand side there's a little bit of nudge of a food truck out there, space to have engagement, art installments, these little circles or rings that are level. So as you're going you might be able to come and sit on and enjoy lunch. But also would be a place where there might be an art installment for an event that's happening. And so we try to make the space useful, you'll see lighting, sound, and then also power so that way we can have events outside when the weather is great. I'd like to say this is where the community meets."
Above: The park and performance area. (Photo courtesy to Huna Totem)
Richardson explained their second concept, parking.
"We have the park, and then we have parking. The park hides our parking lot layer. So that park sits above, as I said, sloping from the 45-foot level, you can see the buildings on top, entertainment space. And then inside is actually two levels. We have bus parking. But on the front side, we have over 100 car spaces that stack at the 35-foot level and the 25-foot level in the front. And we have two separate entrances. So if you were going on tour, the buses would pull into these stalls, we have escalators that come down the middle. Guests would be coming directly to the bus that they're assigned to for the tour. The bus would then depart out of a separate entrance from which the vehicles coming into us to the parking lot that's just dedicated to those that are coming to the building either to work or want to come to have lunch there, we have enough space for people to go throughout the day. And then for those two bits of traffic from the tour traffic, bus traffic, not to converge with the local traffic that's coming into the space."
Richardson said they planned a platform for potential community facilities to be built on top of.
"We thought what a fitting location to do like this international bistro, on the corner of Egan and Whittier. Essentially at the 25-foot level. And right now as we've designed it as the backside of the park becomes part of the park space. Then we said well, we also want to build these first levels to support whatever the future of Juneau determines that we will build on top of that. So there's been lots of things said, for example, we heard about housing, we heard about daycare centers, we heard about convention centers, we heard about an ocean center, some form of science and cultural center coming together. So we thought, well, let's just build the pedestal to make this one of the easiest places in all of Juneau to develop for the future. So we built the pedestal. And then just because we wanted to build it in a visual way, we created the concepts of each of those facilities and what they might look like in this 30,000 square feet of future build-out, call it 'flex' space. Future phases where we set those buildings on top of that pedestal."
The three options for the platform would be an ocean center, conference building, or housing.
Above: The area for restaurants and parking is below. (Photo courtesy to Huna Totem)