The completed $25 million Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions, the most visible waterfront anchor on the 35-acre Water Campus located between downtown Baton Rouge and the Louisiana State University main campus, was dedicated recently by Gov. John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. They were joined at the event by Baton Rouge Area Foundation President and CEO John Davies, President and CEO Justin Ehrenwerth of The Water Institute of the Gulf and CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry.
Built at the site of Baton Rouge’s former municipal dock, the elevated three-story structure extends over the river, providing a plaza surrounding the structure for unprecedented public viewing of the Mississippi River beyond the levee. The centerpiece of the structure is The Water Institute of the Gulf, which will occupy offices on the second floor of the 34,000-square-foot structure. On the third floor, a major meeting space – The Estuary Conference and Event Venue – will host academic conventions, research conferences and public meetings and hearings, all focused on the preservation of Louisiana’s coast, and related efforts worldwide. Applied research projects of the six-year-old Water Institute of the Gulf are taking place on a global scale and will inform major public policy decisions and public works projects in Louisiana, along the Gulf Coast and around the world.
The Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions joins two other facilities already completed nearby – the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority headquarters and the LSU Center for River Studies – as anchors of the 35-acre Water Campus that eventually will be home to an estimated 1.6 million square feet of commercial office, retail, restaurant, hospitality and residential space, along with a potential 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“Capitalizing on Louisiana’s growing stature as a center of global water management research and development, this iconic building contributes to the Baton Rouge skyline, marks the rebirth of the city’s former municipal dock, and serves as a focal point for the important work being done to save our coast,” said Gov. Edwards. “This project is the quintessential example of the impact we can make on our future through strategic investments in public-private partnerships.”
Construction of the Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions included vehicular and pedestrian pathways connecting the river facility to River Road and to LSU and downtown Baton Rouge via the existing Mississippi River levee trail. The design of the state-funded facility encourages collaboration of water management professionals across the Water Campus while also enabling the public to see and feel the river in a way they’ve never experienced before.
“I am extremely excited about the possibilities that this campus will bring to our great capital city,” said Mayor-President Broome. “Not only will it add to our skyline, but it will add to our educational, research, real estate, business and tourism offerings. Also, as this facility grows, our economy also grows. This is indeed an impressive development for the city and parish, and showcases the importance of water in this area and beyond.”
The Water Campus is a catalyst for development along the Nicholson Corridor between downtown Baton Rouge and LSU. It will provide a strategic location for interaction between regional, national and international coastal, environmental and water-related stakeholders, such as state and federal agencies; educational and research institutions; engineering, environmental, planning and consulting firms; and nonprofit advocates.
“This building fulfills another milestone in our commitment to position Louisiana as a leader in the coastal solutions water sector,” BRAF’s Davies said. “The Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions will propel Louisiana onto the cutting edge of coastal protection innovation, with Baton Rouge serving as a thriving landmark for major businesses and restoration projects.”
With completion of the Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions, the Water Institute will move from its current office in downtown Baton Rouge to its new headquarters in the building, where it will be joined by the nonprofit Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana on the second floor. On the first floor, additional tenants will occupy a co-working space that will be branded as the Waterworking venue. With 55 research scientists, engineers, technologists and other professionals today, the Center for Coastal & Deltaic Solutions joins the other anchor facilities to provide employment of more than 230 and over $60 million in combined initial capital investment.
“This center will house some incredible scientific minds working to identify solutions to address Louisiana’s coastal state of emergency,” said CPRA’s Bradberry. “But while we pause here for a few moments today, the crisis on our coast does not pause. Land loss continues, and that is why we continue to work day in and day out with a great sense of urgency, implementing projects, creating tens of thousands of acres of land and marsh, restoring our barrier islands, and building defenses to save what makes Louisiana the unique place we call home.”
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