Architects Alaska is in the midst of designing a state-of-the-art facility intended to unify the North Slope Borough’s Public Safety Department and Behavioral Health Department under one roof. Located in the hub community of Utqiagvik, within Alaska’s most northern jurisdiction, this project serves approximately 10,000 predominantly Alaska native Inuit inhabitants spread over a staggering 95,000 square miles—a region larger than many states.
The two-story structure, encompassing roughly 101,000 SF in total, is designed to be fully sprinklered and of Type IIA construction. The main level spans 74,000 SF, while the upper level covers approximately 27,000 SF. For enhanced reliability, the facility will incorporate three backup generators housed within specialized arctic modules. The Public Safety Department, housed within, will feature the North Slope Police Station and an accompanying 25-cell jail. Concurrently, the Behavioral Health Department will offer a 24-bed residential treatment facility addressing substance misuse, alongside an outpatient segment. Additional amenities include a dining area for staff, a multi-functional meeting space catering to both the Police Department’s operational needs and community outreach, and a culturally significant “Traditional Room.” This dedicated space will emphasize and celebrate indigenous culture, serving as a nexus for community events, programs, and promoting overall wellbeing.
The vision guiding this endeavor is profound and timely. Amid nationwide debates over law enforcement roles, justice disparities, and the intricate interplay between criminal offenses and behavioral health, this initiative charts a new path. It seeks to foster an environment where residents with behavioral health challenges can rekindle their ties with the community, aiding their healing process. Drawing inspiration from Inuit cultural motifs, the facility’s architecture is poised to support operations deeply attuned to, and respectful of, Inuit traditions and values.