04 October 2010

Buckner Building, Whittier, Alaska


Following World War II, the town of Whittier, Alaska, became the site for a major military installation. The Buckner Building, an enormous complex built in 1953, housed most of the population and included, under one roof, a theater, industrial kitchens, and medical clinics and laboratories. The complex was isolated from the outside world, accessible only by boat or airplane.

Today the Buckner building is still standing. The presence of asbestos has thwarted efforts to demolish it. The site is easily accessible and has become a hangout for local youth and grafitti artists. However, its condition is rapidly deteriorating due to flooding and exposure to weather conditions. The building is rumored to be up for sale. So far, however, no one has stepped up to buy it.

I spent a day exploring the site and photographing the interiors. I was intrigued by the appearance of the building being transformed by its surrounding environment, with grass growing five stories up and birds traversing the hallways. Apparently it’s not unusual to see bears holed up there in the spring.


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