Knot led the collaborative team in crafting design recommendations for cabins in the vast Alaskan National Forest, creating cost-effective, sustainable designs to house thousands of visitors.
For visitors to the Alaskan wilderness, a well-designed cabin can make all the difference. The USFS hired Knot to develop a report documenting design recommendations and conceptual alternatives to the existing portfolio of its standard cabin designs in Region 10’s Southeast Alaska territory. The cabins are an essential component in the USFS’s management of 22 million acres in the Tongass and Chugach National Forests—providing recreational opportunities while also balancing the impacts of the cabins on Alaska’s rich ecosystem.
Knot led the team, and collaborated with the Miller Hull Partnership and KPFF on four standard cabin designs that were provided to the contractor in the form of construction drawings, specifications and cost estimates. USFS wanted to reduce the cost of the four cabin designs to match available funding, while adhering to the Forest Service’s aesthetics and sustainability goals. Knot’s team studied material costs by contacting local mills and also evaluated visitor trends and material-transport costs.
Popular with visitors, the cabins are located in Alaska’s often remote alpine tundra, scattered along saltwater inlets, lakes and estuaries, and accessible by road, seaplane and boat. The team’s cost-effective approach integrated considerations of cabin sizes and their thermal efficiency, as well as innovative solutions involving prefabrication to reduce on-site labor costs. Design teams presented several cost-analyses for each cabin type, providing extensive breakdowns of cabin costs in each ecosystem, from coastal areas to the High Country. The team performed energy reviews, including daylighting considerations and code research. For the USFS, Knot’s team-oriented approach resulted in designs that are both economically feasible and ecologically in-tune with their spectacular Alaskan surroundings.