Specialized Fixtures for a U.S. Army Alaska Ski Lodge

Located in Alaska’s interior is the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge where military members, their families and civilians enjoy Alaska’s winter playground. 

DP Juza built, finished and installed new fixtures for the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge, located in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, where seven units of the United States Army Alaska call home. 

The fixtures DP Juza built, finished and installed include: 

  • 84 lockers
  • Nine benches
  • Information console
  • Retail station 
  • Technician equipment repair bench

DP Juza also purchased and installed an OmniWall System to meet client tool storage needs in the lodge’s equipment technician shop. 

Construction Details

The construction of the fixtures in the shop went smoothly through the diligence and teamwork of the DP Juza shop crew to meet the lodge’s grand opening date. 

The three bays of lockers contained a total of 84 individual lockers. Once the DPJ woodworkers prepared all the parts for the lockers, it took them three hours in assembly line fashion.

Our team cut the doors for the lockers using a CNC router.

The doors for the lockers are cut using a CNC router. - Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza

The design for the lockers called for a construction of a grey plastic laminate interior with Formica plastic laminate doors and exposed surfaces in a Stickley Oak plastic laminate, which is a deep coffee color oak design. We finished all the red oak laminate and lumber for the lockers to match the Stickley Oak laminate.

Dustin F. works on finishing a fixture that really shows of the rich color and wood grain achieved with the Stickley Oak finish. 

Dustin F. works on finishing a fixture that really shows of the rich color and wood grain. | Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

The benches took many hours to construct out of solid White Oak. Benches are not a typical fixture we handle, so we had to create fabrication and construction methods to complete them.

Two of our craftsmen, Dustin D. and Jamie, run parts for the benches through the planer.

Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

To create a unique taper on the back of the bench that the architect called for while also maintaining the strength of the back of the benches, they were made from solid White Oak. Our crew cut all the components of the benches with a CNC router. We hid all fasteners to assemble the benches with custom wood plugs. This provides the benches with a seamless, solid wood look. 

Once installed the benches look beautiful and solidly built for visitors to use. 

Benches installed in the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

Finishing the benches also took time, about an hour per bench just to stain them with two of our craftsmen working together. A completed a single bench weighed 100 lbs. According to client specifications, we bolted six of the benches together, doubling the weight for transport. 

Installing the fixtures during an Alaskan winter

In November 2021, a DP Juza crew made the trek to Alaska to install the fixtures. A semi who transported the fixtures arrived late due to poor road conditions. But the fixtures and install crew arrived on time to complete the install. 

The lockers were the most time consuming and tricky fixture to complete on the install. It took two days for one of our craftsmen, John, to install the bases for the lockers. John had to ensure the bases were level and square before the lockers could go in. 

John stands in one of the three locker bays where he is building the bases. He installed the lockers on those bases.

Installing the lockers in the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

Getting the lockers setup was fairly straight forward, but John had to work on the lids for two days. Every locker needed power outlets for charging devices, so installing the lockers also involved running power to each locker. In total, installing the lockers took four days to complete.

This is a completed view of the three bays of lockers after we installed all 84 locker units.

Installed locker bays in the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

During the install of the equipment technician’s repair bench, our VP, Ben Juza, also installed the OmniWall for tool organization. The OmniWall panels appeared to be a good product as the wall panels hang on cleats, but during its installation the crew found that the fasteners that hold the panels together, come up short. 

The fasteners are a plastic material and similarly shaped to those that hold interior panels in vehicles together with a nub end that has to be forced through the holes in the product. If we use the product in the future, we will plan to use different fasteners to install the product. 

Watch a time lapse of the install of the technician repair bench and OmniWall 

Overcoming Install Location Challenges

The install location in Fort Wainwright, Alaska was unique. This was our first time DP Juza installing in Alaska. We were installing in winter and had to contend with limited daylight hours and freezing temperatures. There were only four to five hours of daylight, and temperatures never rose above 0°F.

These cold temperatures created challenges for our equipment. Our extension cords froze due to the arctic cold Fort Wainwright experiences. At least Ben got a good picture from the experience.

Frozen power cord at the Birch Hill Ski and Snowboarding Lodge | DP Juza Custom Woodworking

A common sight while driving downtown or pulling into a parking lot is seeing a string of electrical cords connecting several cars to an outlet, this is because it is so cold people need to plug their vehicles’ block heaters in to ensure their vehicles start again. 

Crew members also observed that coffee is readily available from a variety of vendors in themed food trucks, the most ironic being an Island/Hawaii themed coffee vendor. 

During their time in the area our install crew went to Chena Hot Springs; it was a relaxing experience. They also made time to visit North Pole, Alaska, where they saw Santa’s reindeer and went to Santa’s Workshop.

For our next install project in Alaska, we’ll plan it for the summertime!