The Mayor recently declared downtown Anchorage, between 5th and 7th Avenues and A and C Streets as the Anchorage Design District, in collaboration with the Anchorage Museum and the Anchorage Community Development Authority. This declaration by the city and its partners demonstrates an investment in the creative economy and community while highlighting diversity and innovation.

Why Design?

Design is more than applying an aesthetic coat. Design is about applying a method for solving difficult problems and a conscious effort to apply meaningful order across a range of ideas. Design is about creativity, lateral thinking, intuition, communication, connecting disciplines, creating identity, addressing discourse, inviting conversation, guiding interactions, proposing and trying solutions, and adding value. Design celebrates empathy, diversity, inclusion, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism, and collaboration.

For the Design District and the city, design has the potential to stimulate community collaboration. It can prevent urban decay by revitalizing structures and by creating safer spaces. It can help a winter city benefit from community events and spaces with friendly approaches to sidewalks, lighting, facades, pedestrians and parking.

Inherent in the design process is a collaboration of diverse individuals gathering and working together to share cultures and aspirations in a climate of mutual trust and understanding. In this way, design promotes tolerance, communication, cooperation and respect.

Vision and Guidance

The vision for the four city blocks within the Design District is for it to encompass streetscapes, public spaces and open space that might include land areas, facades, walls, utilities or other features that are identified by private land and building owners as collaborative opportunities.

The Design District is intended to be both conceptual and real, developing from initial stages of a framework for programming and activity, with a longer-term goal to be a comprehensive and consolidated moment that helps define and celebrate design in Anchorage, Alaska, and the North.

Collaboration is a key to sustainability for the District. Districts don’t succeed if they don’t have active stakeholders who are willing to invest time, ideas, human capital, relationship-building, and other resources into the District.

Public-Private Partnership

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The District is a result of cooperative efforts between the Museum, the Anchorage Community Development Authority, the Municipality of Anchorage and private property owners.

In an explicit public-private partnership, the District’s anchor and agency partners, private property owners, and ongoing engagement with the public will help form and determine its success.

The Anchorage Museum will serve as the lead and the anchor cultural institution in the District and will support the effort on an ongoing basis, contributing staff time, design services, and programming in the form of residencies, events, and community opportunities in the District.

The Anchorage Community Development Authority is the other anchor to the District, supporting and advancing ideas that realize community vision in an economically viable and sustainable way.

Design House Alaska, Degrees North Studio, and The Jules Bed+Breakfast add to the creative economy in the District and are a key part of planning and programming.

A steering committee made up of property owners and anchor organizations in the District helps to guide efforts to create a vibrant segment of downtown.

The Municipality supports the District in advocating for exceptional design and safety and in communicating and collaborating with the steering committee and District anchors regarding needs for District development, community engagement, and special events.


The Design District won’t reveal itself all at once. It will develop over time through sustained investment, the organization of events, collaboration, distinct and targeted efforts, and with the intent to change and grow with the community.

March 2018
Official Designation of the Design District by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz

April 2018
Design residency with Lateral North

May 2018
Connections between the Anchorage Museum and Anchorage Community Development Authority along C Street

Summer 2018
Connections between the Museum’s Lunch on the Lawn and B Street, Alaska Design Studio and design residency development, initial signage in the District and the beginning of branding elements

September 2018
Design Week Anchorage

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