Alaska provides designers the “most extreme conditions” when it comes to design challenges. Alaska has high snow and wind loads, is one of the most seismically active regions in the nation, has a wide temperature range, long periods of darkness in winter months followed by long sunny days during summer months, a short construction period and high construction costs. Reid Middleton’s engineers have been practicing engineering in Alaska for over 33 years. We have worked in all regions of the State and have hands-on experience of the issues that accompany design and construction in remote Arctic/Subarctic locations, including:
- logistics of getting construction materials to the site
- accessibility and cost of materials
- availability of skilled labor
- short construction seasons
- winter construction techniques
- temperature extremes and the impact on differential movement in structures and the selection of appropriate construction materials
- the challenges of foundation design in poor soil or permafrost or marginally stable permafrost
- the need to pre-fabricate or “modularize” construction to minimize on-site construction labor and time.
Community relations are important on any project, but even more so in rural Alaska. The smaller the community, the greater importance every project or facility has for the local residents. On all our projects in rural Alaska, Reid Middleton makes a major effort to understand the needs and issues facing the local community. This includes meeting with community leaders, local residents, and the people who use and maintain the facility. We have found that although our engineers understand the technical issues associated with a facility, the local residents and users understand the environment in which it will be built and maintained. We pursue and appreciate local input as to what systems, materials, and construction techniques are most successful at the specific project location.