Science center picks architect for new campus

Undeterred by pandemic, construction project nears funding goal

Prince William Sound Science Center’s harborside facility. (April 7, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

In spite of the pandemic that has thrown much of society into paralysis, Prince William Sound Science Center’s plans for a new campus are moving forward. PWSSC announced March 31 that they had selected Anchorage architecture firm McCool Carlson Green to design their five-acre facility.

“They have extensive experience in coastal Alaska,” said Katrina Hoffman, president and CEO of PWSSC. “Architects that are really good with what I’ll call ‘interior climates’ may not be as familiar with the perils of building in a place that gets 150 inches of precipitation a year. This team is familiar with that.”

The majority of construction work is planned for 2021, with a grand opening sometime in 2022. So far, PWSSC has not been forced to revise its building plans in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s certainly possible that securing supplies or even labor could require some delays, but I think time is on our side,” Hoffman said. “A year from now, the world is going to be in a more stable position, as far as it pertains to COVID-19.”

PWSSC has begun raising funds for a sewer extension that will run from the new campus to nearby the Cordova Ferry Terminal, a distance of roughly one half-mile. The city will own and operate the sewer, which will be accessible to any new buildings that may be constructed along that area of Orca Road, Hoffman said. Construction of the sewer line has been scheduled to coincide with a Department of Transportation and Public Facilities project that will also require work on a section of Orca Road, removing the necessity to disturb the road twice.

PWSSC has secured over 90 percent of the funding necessary for its new campus. However the project is still eligible to receive around $10,000 from former Cordova resident Meera Kohler and retired fishing industry executive John Garner, who announced in January that they would match up to $40,000 in donations from local individuals and small businesses. The project still hopes to reach the $40,000 maximum through online donations, Hoffman said.

“I know these are really tough times for people,” Hoffman said. “But every little bit counts, and if there are people who want to be a part of this very meaningful project that’s going to bring more resilience to our community for the next 50 years, now would be a great time to give.”