Louisiana Picks Design Firm for $14M Coastal Research Center

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Louisiana has hired a firm to design a $14.5 million coastal research center at Nicholls State University.

Thibodaux-based Duplantis Design Group will design the project, and the building should be put out to bid by the end of the year, the school and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said in a news release Monday.

“When Nicholls was founded in 1948, we were 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the Gulf Coast. Today, we are 24 miles (39 kilometers) away,” university President Jay Clune said. “We are the closest Louisiana university to the Gulf, so we have more at stake in this fight to save our coast.”

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Gov. John Bel Edwards and other officials signed an agreement in April to create a center at Nicholls to study the effects of land loss in the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins.

The Terrebonne Basin has lost more than 30,000 acres (12,141 hectares) of coastal wetlands since 1932, the highest rate in Louisiana. The Atchafalaya Basin — the state’s only basin that isn’t losing land — gained 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares).

“This joint venture between (the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority) and Nicholls could not come at a better time as we are seeing record interest and investment in coastal projects across our state, authority chairman Chip Kline said. “We look forward to watching this concept become a reality in the very near future.”

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No timeline for the project’s completion was provided.

Plans for the coastal center include a large area for exhibits about coastal restoration work in southeast Louisiana. In addition, scientists from across the state will be able to work together in labs and offices, and the center will have meeting spaces for conferences and community events. The center also will work with the local economic development incubator to help create jobs and small businesses in the area.

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