Posted on February 15, 2021
Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., will begin preliminary work next year on a $14.5 million Coastal Center that will serve as a hub for research on Louisiana’s eroding wetlands.
Houma Today reports that the university expects to receive bids by year’s end on groundwork for the 33,000-square-foot building. That work, financed by $2.5 million from the state coastal agency, is set to begin early next year.
“As the state university that is geographically closest to the coast, Nicholls is at the epicenter of our coastal land loss crisis and is ideally situated to host this Coastal Center and educate the next generation of leaders in this field,” says Chip Kline, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Nicholls hopes the state Legislature will approve a proposed $12.5 million allocation in the state construction bill this year. If that happens, construction of the building could be complete by early 2023.
The building will enable scientists, students and others from across the state to collaborate on research and projects, with a primary focus on the Atchafalaya River and the Terrebonne Basin. The state coastal agency, the Water Institute of the Gulf, and Nicholls’ biological sciences and geomatics departments are among those already committed to the work.
A 5,000-square-foot space will house interpretive exhibits that expose visitors to the Atchafalaya Basin and to the research being done at the center. Meeting spaces will hold conferences and community events.
Louisiana loses the equivalent of a football field of coastal islands and wetlands every 100 minutes. More than 1,800 square miles has turned to open water in the past 90 years, officials say.
“When Nicholls was founded in 1948, we were 50 miles from the Gulf Coast,” Nicholls President Jay Clune says. “Today, we are 24 miles away. We are the closest Louisiana university to the Gulf, so we have more at stake in this fight to save our coast.”
The architect is Duplantis Design Group.