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Eielson Building

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1934, first floor, N. Lester Troast; 1940, completed, Foss and Malcolm

The Eielson Building, officially named the Col. Carl Ben Eielson Aeronautical Engineering Building, represents the building style of the 1930s and also the difficulties the fledgling university encountered. Ben Eielson, a Fairbanks schoolteacher turned pioneering pilot, had been a local hero ever since he took the first air mail contract in 1924, delivering mail from Fairbanks to McGrath. In 1928 he gained further fame when he flew across the top of the world. In 1930 he was killed while trying to rescue the Nanuk, a ship caught in Siberian ice.

This building was planned as a memorial to him, but by 1934 only $12,000 of the estimated $100,000 needed for construction had been raised. Nonetheless, construction went forward on a two-story-plus-basement reinforced-concrete building. As designed by N. Lester Troast of Juneau, the 54-foot-by-84-foot building had two-stage buttresses delineating each bay, a corner tower, and Jacobean hood molds on the third-floor windows. That first year, only the first floor was completed, and a temporary gable roof was constructed.

When the building was completed in 1940, Foss and Malcolm were credited with the design, which had taken on a distinctly Art Deco appearance. Troast's buttresses became piers with vertical gouging at the tops. There were also vertical gouging between the first and second floors and zigzag ornament along the cornice. The octagonal corner towers on the west side were left unfinished.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alison K. Hoagland
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Citation

Alison K. Hoagland, "Eielson Building", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AK-01-IN016.1.

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 224-225.

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