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Project to break ground in July

July 1, 2013

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has hired longtime contractor Dawson Construction, Inc., to build the Walter Soboleff Center in Juneau.

Dawson Construction, Inc., founded 45 years ago, has completed more than 30 projects in Juneau and worked on multiple cultural centers in Southeast Alaska. Dawson also has worked with MRV Architects, which designed the Walter Soboleff Center, and has an office in Juneau.

The bidders went through a rigorous process, which resulted in some exceptional proposals, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“We had to make a decision and it was very difficult, but I’m very excited about Dawson Construction. They have great experience here in Southeast Alaska. In the end, they seemed like the best fit for us,” said Worl.

The project is now on schedule to break ground in late July.

“We’re already in the process of planning that. We’re hopeful that everyone from the governor and our legislators are going to be able to attend as well as our tribal leaders—ANB, ANS and of course Dr. Soboleff’s family,” she said.

SHI used a two-step competitive negotiation process to choose a contractor. Applicants’ qualifications were scored by a team of evaluators during the first step, and the highest-ranked firms were asked to bid and participate in an interview, which took place in June.

All of the bids were very competitive and in-line with SHI’s previous estimates, which put the total cost of the building at around $20 million. SHI has raised more than seventy-five percent of the funds and will continue to raise the remaining funds during construction.

“We’re extremely grateful for the demonstrated support we’ve received from the Alaska Native Education Program, ArtPlace, City and Borough of Juneau, Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, Juneau Lion’s Club, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Rasmuson Foundation, Sealaska, State of Alaska, Walter Soboleff Trust and numerous individuals and businesses,” Worl said.

“We’re not quite up to $20 million, but I’m confident with Byron Mallott as the chair of the campaign committee that we’re going to meet our goal.”

The center is named for the late Dr. Walter Soboleff, an influential Tlingit leader and former Chair of SHI’s board of trustees. The Center will feature space for art demonstrations and exhibits, retail sales, a learning center for educational programs, and venues for performances and presentations. It will also house a research facility, climate-controlled collections storage, a library and work areas for scholars and the general public. (For more information on the center, see

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

CONTACT: Rosita Worl, SHI President, 907-463-4844