C. Harold Wirum Scholarship
Longtime Alaskan Carl “Harold” Wirum was born in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 25, 1927. His father was born in Norway and was a carpenter for the Alaska Railroad and his mother was born in Sweden and was a cook for the Alaska Railroad Hospital. Wirum graduated from Anchorage High School in 1945. While growing up in Anchorage, he held various jobs including working as the town paper boy, a sweeper-clean-up boy in the general store, and as a truck driver for the Alaska Transfer Company. Wirum worked hard growing up, but also enjoyed the wilds of Alaska with his friends.
Wirum never had a doubt about what he wanted to do. His father, John Wirum, built some of the oldest homes in Anchorage, so Wirum had construction in his blood. After completion of his military service, he enrolled in Montana State University to study architecture. After a year there, he transferred to the University of Washington School of Architecture. During summers he worked in the Alaska Railroad Engineering Office and at an Anchorage architecture firm.
Prior to forming Harold Wirum & Associates in 1974, Wirum was a partner in two other Anchorage architectural firms. He had more than 40 years of Alaska architectural experience. He was a former president of the Alaska Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was a member of the Board of Examiners for Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors for the state of Alaska for seven years. He served as a member of the Anchorage Planning Commission from 1989 to 1993.
Wirum’s architectural experience covers work in all parts of Alaska. Several of these projects were “firsts” in Alaska in terms of building type, use of materials and systems, pioneering new areas of codes and ordinances, and resolving new issues with building officials, fire marshals and other code enforcement agencies. He directed teams in the design of Alaska facilities and buildings of all types, such as medical facilities, schools and detention centers still in use today. Some of his larger projects in Anchorage included the ARCO complex, Anchorage International Airport Control Tower, Hunt Building (Atwood Building), Hotel Captain Cook, Sullivan Arena, Union Oil Building (NANA Regional Corporation) and Peterson Tower, among others.
During the 1970s, Wirum and his wife, Mary Lou, a real estate broker, started their first venture into developing and managing buildings. They, with two other partners, developed the first multiuse office/residential building in Anchorage (Peterson Tower). After Wirum’s wife passed away in 1992, he began the phasing out of his architectural practice. His son, John, took over the real estate development and property management business in 1992.
Wirum’s family is proud of the positive and everlasting contribution he made to the Anchorage skyline. He will always be remembered in their hearts as a gentleman, and a generous and loving father, husband and grandparent. The legacy he is leaving behind through his creation of education trusts for the benefit of students in Alaska will help educate future generations.
Wirum passed away in 2017.